After weeks of negotiations, deliberations and plain frustrations, Temple is moving up in the college athletics world.
Eight years after being asked to leave the Big East Conference, the Owls are heading back. They will compete in football beginning with the 2012 season and become a full member in 2013-14, elevating their national profile and bringing greater financial reward to their athletic department.
The Executive Committee of Temples Board of Trustees voted Wednesday morning to accept the Big Easts invitation. Though many believed and erroneously reported that the Owls would return to the Big East weeks ago, negotiations with Temples current sporting homes, the Mid-American Conference for football and the Atlantic 10 for everything else, dragged on.
The MAC was particularly ornery, given that it would be losing a member about six months before the start of its gridiron season, and demanded the standard exit fee of 2.5 million be increased to 6 million.
"It's been no secret that Temple has wanted to be in the Big East across the board for many, many years," MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher told the Associated Press.
Temple will share that cost with the Big East, which will foot half of the bill and provide an interest-free loan for the remainder, which Temple will pay off over three years. Despite the cost of Temples gaining freedom from the MAC, Board of Trustees Chairman Patrick J. OConnor insists that this move will not be financially onerous for Temple.
The deal that we signed will be very cash positive for Temple, next year and beyond, OConnor said. In the MAC, we were revenue neutral. We were probably losing money.
According to OConnor, Temple will clear 3 million for football beginning next year, even with the loan payment made to the Big East. Every year after the debt to the conference is satisfied will yield a profit of between 3-7 million. And thats before the conference renegotiates its current television deal, a situation triggered by the Big Easts new configuration. OConnor estimates that the schools affiliation with the conference in mens basketball will net about 2.5 million a year, before any renegotiation.
Before Temple officially could be accepted, a Big East school had to put forward the motion to take a vote. As it turned out, Villanova, which allegedly had fought Temples inclusion, was the member to do so.
We welcome Temple to the Big East family, head mens basketball coach Jay Wright said in a statement released by the school. "Temple and Villanova will work well together to ensure the Big Easts status as an elite conference and to make Philadelphia a great Big East city. We look forward to adding new chapters to our great rivalry with Temple in the years to come.
Temple becomes the Big Easts eighth football playing member and replaces West Virginia, which is paying 20 million to join the Big 12 in the fall. After next school year, Pittsburgh and Syracuse will leave the conference, and Boise State, San Diego State, Central Florida, Southern Methodist, Houston and Memphis will come aboard in 2013 for football, creating new rivalries Temple is excited about (see story). That will give the Big East 12 gridiron members and allow it to stage a championship game, while also providing some extra heft as the BCS considers its options beyond 13.
Michael Bradley has covered Philadelphia and national college sports for 25 years. His video segment, the Collegiate Corner, runs regularly on CSNPhilly.com. He also contributes to Blue Ribbon Yearbooks, Phillymag.com and Yahoo! Sports Radio.