Marquette Accepts Invitation to Join BIG EAST Conference

Nov. 4, 2003

MILWAUKEE -Marquette University has accepted an invitation to be a member of the BIG EAST Conference, University President Rev. Robert A. Wild, S.J., announced at a news conference this afternoon. Marquette will begin participation in the BIG EAST Conference in the 2005-06 Season. All Golden Eagle athletics teams will continue to compete in Conference USA for the remainder of this season and will compete in C-USA for the entirety of the 2004-05 Season.

"Marquette is very excited to be joining the BIG EAST," University President Rev. Robert A. Wild, S.J., said. "We believe this will be one of the best basketball conferences in the country and will allow our athletic programs to continue our tradition of excellence. Through the extensive television exposure of the conference, this move should also provide our alumni from all over the nation even more opportunities to see us play."

As a result of the BIG EAST Conference's president's meeting on November 4, Marquette was one of five schools to be extended an invitation to the BIG EAST Conference. BIG EAST Commissioner Mike Tranghese confirmed Marquette's invitation and acceptance in a news conference. Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville and USF were also extended invitations and all accepted.

"This is an exciting opportunity for our University and will allow our fans in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and across the nation to see and support not only Marquette basketball, but all of our sports," said Marquette Athletic Director Bill Cords.

The inclusion of Marquette and the four other institutions increases the league membership to 16 schools. The new membership of the BIG EAST Conference has strong reputations both academically and athletically. More than 300 student-athletes in the 16 schools of the BIG EAST have earned Academic All-America honors. The league owns 22 national championships in six different sports in its 24 seasons and sent two members from its future alignment to the 2003 NCAA Men's Basketball Division I Final Four (Marquette and Syracuse). In the league's 24 previous seasons, it has four men's basketball national championship winners.

"The BIG EAST is going to be the place where some of the best college basketball in this country is played," said Marquette Men's Basketball Head Coach Tom Crean. "Our program is about excellence and continual improvement, so we are very excited about competing with teams of this caliber."

While men's basketball may receive much of the national acclaim, the BIG EAST is strong in sports across the board. The league owns the previous four women's basketball national championship teams, several Women's College World Series appearances, strong reputations in men's and women's soccer, deep traditions in men's and women's tennis, track and field and cross country as well the other sports it sponsors.

"It's an honor to be a part of the BIG EAST Conference," head women's basketball coach Terri Mitchell said. "Marquette University offers a wonderful balance of excellence in athletics and academics, and I feel the BIG EAST has the same interests. It's a great fit for us. It's going to be a challenge, and we're excited for the opportunity to be a part of it."

Marquette will leave Conference USA following the 2004-05 season, having been a member for 10 years. Prior to its membership in Conference USA, Marquette was a member of the Great Midwest Conference (1992-1995) and the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (1989-1992).

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Marquette University is a Catholic, Jesuit university dedicated to serving God by serving our students and contributing to the advancement of knowledge. Through our mission of Faith, Excellence, Leadership and Service we strive to graduate students who are not only better educated, but better people. We provide them with the necessary training to actively "Be the Difference" in our world.

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