It's official: Navy will join the Big East in football only beginning with the 2015 season.
The academy and the conference have agreed to a three-year phase-in period, where a scheduling partnership will be created leading up to a full schedule of eight games in 2015. During that period, Navy will continue its current television partnership with CBS and postseason bowls. However, Navy will be included in all future television, marketing, promotion, and bowl negotiations by the Big East effective immediately.
Here are two statements. Stay tuned for more following a conference call later this afternoon.
“After careful consideration, we believe this affiliation to be in the best interests of the Naval Academy, our athletic programs and the Brigade of Midshipmen," said Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Admiral Michael Miller, USN. "While our independent status has served Navy football well to date, Big East conference affiliation will help ensure our future scholar-athletes and athletic programs remain competitive at the highest levels for the foreseeable future.”
“When people look back, they will mark this as a truly historic day for the Big East Conference,” said Commissioner John Marinatto. “America’s first national football conference is adding a program with true national appeal. Navy’s decision to make the Big East its first football conference home after over 100 years of independence demonstrates the value of our new expansion model and the long-term viability of our football product. The Big East is truly proud to be associated with one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the country and one of the most storied programs in college football.”
The addition of Navy would bring the Big East up to 11 football-playing members, with the hopes of adding one more. Navy has been a football independent since it began playing the sport in 1879. Of the three service academies, Army would be the only one remaining as an independent.
One other important note: Navy will continue to play Army, Air Force and Notre Dame as part of its schedule.