ECU Big East bound?

Published 9:33 pm Wednesday, September 21, 2011

East Carolina head coach Ruffin McNeill (left) waves to a camera during the first practice of the 2011 season. (WDN Photo/Brian Haines)

GREENVILLE — East Carolina University has taken a step toward leaving Conference USA as the school has submitted a letter of application to join the Big East Conference.
The Pirates have longed for a chance to become a member of a BCS conference and are looking to capitalize on the departures of long-time Big East staples Syracuse and Pittsburgh, who defected from the Big East over the weekend to join the ACC.
When asked for an official comment on the Pirates’ recent actions, the school released this joint statement by chancellor Steve Ballard and athletic director Terry Holland:
“East Carolina University will always maintain a proactive approach in regards to positioning itself for future success, and the fluidity of current conference realignment possibilities is no exception. While we have formalized our interest in Big East Conference membership as a viable option, ECU will remain focused on competing at the highest level through the efforts of Conference USA.”
Holland was not available to the media because of the fluidity of the situation and the ever-changing NCAA landscape.
East Carolina joined Conference USA in 1997 and won back-to-back conference titles in 2008 and 2009 under then-coach Skip Holtz, who left to join South Florida who plays in the Big East.
On Wednesday, ECU coach Ruffin McNeill said on Wednesday he and the team’s only concern is its conference opener against UAB on Saturday.
“The players don’t even think about it, we’re only worried about things we can control,” McNeill said. “We can’t control where we go or if we go or things like that. I think we have exactly what it takes (for any conference). I think we are a jewel for Conference USA and I think we would be a jewel for any conference.”