City News ServiceThe Big East Conference announced Wednesday that five schools -- including San Diego State University -- will join the league in 2013.
SDSU, which will leave the Mountain West Conference, will be joined by Boise State, Central Florida, Houston and Southern Methodist.
The Aztecs and Boise State are joining for football only and will have to find a home for other sports. The three others will be full members.
The Big East is refilling its ranks following the defections of Pittsburgh, Syracuse and West Virginia.
“We’re thrilled to join the Big East and and have the opportunity to compete at the highest level,” SDSU President Elliot Hirshman said in a conference call with the media. “We’re looking forward to extraordinary competition -- we can’t wait for 2013. Bring it on.”
San Diego State reportedly learned from media consultants that a television package with the Big East could earn each school at least $6.4 million, nearly four times higher than what the Aztecs currently make in the MWC -- of which SDSU was a founding member in 1999.
Conference Commissioner John Marinatto promised to facilitate non- conference basketball games with current Big East teams, which are some of the best in the nation.
The Big East’s football champion currently has an automatic bid to a prestigious and lucrative Bowl Championship Series game, though how long that will last is unknown.
Even if the automatic BCS bid is not renewed, the conference has better access to bowl games than the Mountain West. The Aztecs barely got into a bowl game this season despite a second straight 8-4 regular season record.
The Big East’s football-playing universities expected to be around by 2013 are Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Rutgers and South Florida. Non- football Big East schools that usually excel in basketball include Georgetown, Marquette and St. John’s.
Marinatto called the westward expansion “a bold and creative step” for a conference that has “a history of reinventing itself” since its founding in 1979.
Around the time the expansion was announced, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported that Air Force, long rumored to be considering a move to the Big East, announced it would remain a member of the MWC.
San Diego State’s other sports are expected to join the Big West or Western Athletic conferences.