Big East Conference

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The Big East Conference is a collegiate athletics conference consisting of sixteen universities in the eastern half of the United States. The conference's 17 members (16 full-time and 1 associate member) participate in 24 NCAA sports. Eight of the seventeen conference schools are football members and the Big East competes as a BCS conference in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), the top level of NCAA competition in that sport (also known by its former designation: Division I-A). Three members have football programs but are not Big East football schools: Georgetown and Villanova compete in the Football Championship Subdivision and Notre Dame plays as an FBS independent. The other five schools — Seton Hall, St. John's, DePaul, Marquette, and Providence — discontinued their football programs.

The Big East has had all eight members play in bowl games since 2005 realignment and has had seven of eight teams ranked in the Top 25 since 2003. In that time, the Big East has seen the emergence of new national players West Virginia rising to as high as No. 1 and was ranked in the Top 10 for three-straight years (2005, 2006, 2007) (South Florida rising as high as #2, Louisville as high as #3, Rutgers as high as #7, Pittsburgh as high as #9, Connecticut as high as #13 and University of Cincinnati as high as #3 in BCS standings). Also, Big East football has seen an increase in attendance and is enjoying a new, $250 million plus television package that lasts through 2013.[1][2]

In basketball, Big East teams account for 40 Final Four appearances and 10 NCAA Championships, numbers only surpassed by the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Big Ten Conference (Big Ten) and Pac-10 Conference.[citation needed] Of the Big East's 16 full members, all but South Florida have been to the Final Four, the most of any conference,[3] though Louisville, Marquette, DePaul, Notre Dame, Rutgers, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh made all their trips before joining the Big East. In 2006, the Big East set the record for the most teams sent to the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship by a single conference with eight and repeated the feat two years later.[4]

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