Big East Implications

By Jordan Shipley (jordan.shipley@villanova.edu)

Villanova, PA–It’s that time of year again — school is finally underway, the bone-chilling cold of winter is setting in, and America’s favorite sport is overtaking colleges across the nation: FOOTBALL is back! The Villanova football team shares a unique accomplishment with only a handful of teams across the country – through pure effort, hard work, and determination, our Wildcats beat Montana to claim the NCAA FCS National Championship last season. As a result of their resounding success, Villanova has been approached by the Big East with an offer to become the ninth team in the conference. With hopes to grant the Big East an answer by the end of the 2010-2011 school year, the Villanova Athletics Program, in conjunction with the Board of Trustees and  Father Peter Donahue, must consider a number of important factors relating to the switch.

First, Villanova must contend with the heightened competition of teams in the Big East. Though our national championship victory certainly proved our ability to compete at a high level, the University must keep in mind that the team entering the Big East Conference in 2014 would be an entirely different squad from last year’s champs. ‘Nova would need to improve its training facilities  to be able to contend with other Big East programs; in conjunction, the school would also need to provide the football program with 22 more scholarships in order to adhere to Big East standards. (The statutes of Title IX would then require 22 additional scholarships be made available to female athletes at Nova.) Currently, Villanova does not have a stadium big enough to accommodate the 15,000 fans required by the Big East; besides finding a venue large enough for these games, the school must then sell enough tickets to make the transition worthwhile.

The realignment isn’t as massive as the realignment of the Big East back when the conference added five teams from Conference USA: Louisville, USF, Cincinnati, Marquette and Depaul. There has been chatter that possibly Syracuse, Pittsburgh, or Rutgers might move to another conference, although nothing has been settled yet.

Although the possible setbacks seem overwhelming, ‘Nova has a number of things to gain from the switch. We currently compete in the conference in every sport besides football, which would make the transition a natural next step. As the ninth team to enter, scheduling worries for the conference would be lessened; only fourout-of-conference games would need to be scheduled instead of five. Greater competition would come with an increase in quality matchups, as well as the opportunity to develop exciting rivalries.

Lastly, with a few years until the program’s full absorption by the Big East, Andy Talley and his coaches would be able to greatly increase the team’s competitiveness, to the point of beating the majority of their Big East opponents.

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