UConn makes move to Big East official

Photo Credit: Cloe Poisson/Hartford Courant

One can say there is a certain bit of nostalgia or rightness or symmetry with the idea of UConn being in the Big East – and when they are in any conference that is not the Big East, the world must no longer be tilting on its axis.

Huskies fans that don the blue colors of the basketball-centric school can celebrate – the world is tilting on its axis again.

UConn and the Big East held a joint press conference at Madison Square Garden in New York to announce and celebrate the Huskies’ return to the Big East.

There were three words on a huge screen at MSG that said the whole story:

Welcome back, UConn.

As soon as next July, UConn plans to leave the American Athletic Conference in favor of the Big East.

This is about taking our destiny back.

–UConn president Susan Herbst

The Huskies departed the original Big East for the AAC nearly a decade ago in what was seen as a move to potentially elevate UConn’s football program. The problem with that, as Geno Auriemma’s teams have displayed over the years, is UConn simply is not a football school and college football is nowhere near as big in the northeast as it is in the southeast, midwest and west.

UConn is a basketball school and will always be a basketball school. Moving back to the Big East is an acknowledgement of that as well as the renewal of old rivalries.

UConn will pay $10 million to leave the AAC and $3.5 million to reenter the Big East.

Athletics brass at the presser acknowledged the short-term costs but appear to be looking at the long-term benefits. David Benedict, UConn’s athletics director believes that there will be greater financial benefits with successful basketball programs in the Big East.

If you’re not successful, you’re not going to be able to generate resources.

–David Benedict, UConn athletics director

Val Ackerman, current Big East commissioner and former WNBA president, lauded the on-court and off-court pros of bringing Storrs back in the fold.

All of that taken together represented an opportunity that we simply couldn’t pass up.

–Val Ackerman, current Big East commissioner, former WNBA president

The only downside for UConn in the move could be football. It isn’t a priority for the Big East and the AAC probably will not allow the Huskies to remain as football-only. UConn could either join another conference for football or go independent.

But it is crystal clear that women’s and men’s basketball were the driving forces behind UConn’s return to the Big East.

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