On Thursday, the Big East conference will formally announce the University of Connecticut’s addition as its newest member–which was already reported as a done deal this past weekend:
Right now, here’s what we know:
While UConn’s men’s basketball isn’t what it once was under former legendary head coach Jim Calhoun–as a blue blood caliber program, having now suffered three straight losing seasons, 2nd-year head coach Dan Hurley has them poised to become a tournament team upon their new Big East debut in 2020-21.
With an enrollment of over 30,000 students, UConn will become the largest school in the Big East–as the next closest school, DePaul, comes in at around 24,000 students.
It has the size, financial might, championship pedigree, rabid fan base, and an impressive head coach to eventually return to at least some of the program’s prior glory (as 4x NCAA Champions).
Simply put, the potential for greatness is still there for the Huskies–and the Big East should provide them a grander national stage than the American Athletic Conference to accomplish it.
Their arrival coincides with a relatively uncertain time for the Big East too in men’s basketball. Specifically, there’s Villanova as the perennial top program and then everyone else (especially with former Xavier head coach Chris Mack having left for Louisville a year ago).
No other program has clearly separated themselves on a year-to-year basis from the rest of the pack–other than Jay Wright‘s squad.
There’s no doubt that the Huskies’ arrival will make the Big East Conference better collectively–as well as more lucrative for all schools (and the Big East tournament should be that much better with Storrs, CT, a short commute away from Madison Square Garden in terms of fanfare and intensity).
It also could provide the Big East with some increased leverage for a new, ‘greener’ deal with Fox Sports when their current television deal expires in 2024-25.
However, where Butler should aspire to be as a program is consistently in that #2-4 range in the Big East–and UConn will add another potential high caliber program that could make it that much harder to survive in such a tough conference’s pecking order.
Still, the move should still be more good than bad for the Bulldogs–and if nothing else, we can start putting some of those memories of the 2011 National Championship Game safely behind us (*if not dead and buried).