Big East Week: Where are the deserters now?

This week, Daily Campus Sports remembers the nostalgic highs of the old BIG EAST Conference, while also asking ‘where did it all go wrong?’ This is Big East Week.

While many of the Big East’s old members find themselves in either the new Big East or the American Athletic Conference, there have been many schools that left for what they considered greener pastures at one point or another. Let’s take a look at those that left and where they are now.

Virginia Tech (left in 2004): Virginia Tech joined the conference as a football-only member in 1991, and moved the rest of their sports there in 2000, but they spent only a few years playing Big East basketball before shipping off to the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Hokies made a quick splash, winning the ACC in football in their first season, as well as in 2007, 2008 and 2010. The football program hasn’t missed a bowl since 1992; the men’s basketball program has only been to the NCAA tournament three times since leaving the Big East.

Miami (left in 2004): Miami won the Big East in football in each of its last four seasons as a member of the conference, but the program has yet to win the conference in any of its 14 seasons in the ACC. The Hurricanes have seem to found their footing under Mark Richt, reaching the Orange Bowl last season. Men’s basketball has made five NCAA tournaments since leaving, including a great 2013 season in which they won the ACC regular season title and the conference tournament.

Boston College (left in 2005): Boston College football claimed the Big East title in their last season in the league, before shipping off to the ACC, where they won a division title in three of their first four seasons. The program has fallen from its lofty height since then, although Steve Addazio has led the Eagles to a bowl in four of his first five seasons. The men’s basketball program has been a doormat in the ACC, bar a surprising win over No. 1 Duke last season.

West Virginia (left in 2012): West Virginia joined the Big East for football in 1991 and became an all-sport member in 1995. The Mountaineers stayed in the conference until 2012, a year before the Big East’s demise, when they left for the Big 12. The men’s basketball program has made the Sweet 16 in three of the past four seasons while the football team has been bowl eligible each year since joining the Big 12.

Syracuse (left in 2013): The Orange got off to a tremendous start in men’s basketball in their new home in the ACC, starting 25-0 and finishing second in the regular season conference standings. Although they floundered the next year, Jim Boeheim’s team made a surprise Final Four run in 2016, while the women’s team went all the way to the national title game. In football, the Orange are just 11-30 in conference play since joining the conference.

Pittsburgh (left in 2013): After two 8-5 seasons in 2015 and 2016, the Panthers football team took a step back in 2017, finishing with a 5-7 record. Otherwise, Pitt’s football team has been a bright spot on what has otherwise been a dismal athletic program since joining the ACC. The men’s basketball team finished with an 8-24 record in 2017-18, but ended the season with 19 straight losses and a 0-18 record in conference play. The Panthers women’s basketball team hasn’t been all that great either, not earning more than 13 wins in any of the last three seasons.

Notre Dame (left in 2013): Notre Dame settled with the Big East to leave the conference two years earlier than expected back in 2013, to join the ACC in all sports except ice hockey and football, in which the school would remain independent. Since then, the Fighting Irish won its first women’s basketball title since 2001 and has competed at a high level for several years in men’s basketball. The football program recovered in 2017, finishing with a victory over LSU in the Citrus Bowl after a horrible 2016 season in which it had a 4-8 record.

Rutgers (left in 2014): Rutgers athletics has seen better days. In its time since leaving the Big East in 2014, the football program has gotten drubbed time and time again by Big 10 opponents and has a 10-26 record since the beginning of the 2015 season. Men’s basketball hasn’t seen much more success, earning just 37 wins in the last three years combined. Neither team has seen postseason play once and may not for quite some time.

Louisville (left in 2014): The Cardinals have had a mixed bag of success and NCAA violations since leaving the Big East. Louisville’s basketball program, playing in the ACC, will now be run by former Xavier coach Chris Mack, who takes over after a series of allegations spelled the end of Rick Pitino’s career and vacated their 2013 national championship in basketball. The Cardinals’ football team has earned at least eight wins in each of the last four seasons and has developed talent such as Heisman winner Lamar Jackson. The women’s basketball team, led by coach Jeff Walz and superstar guard Asia Durr, made a Final Four run in 2018 and could be back next year.


Chris Hanna is the associate sports editor for The Daily Campus, covering women’s basketball. He can be reached via email at christopher.hanna@uconn.edu. He tweets @realchrishanna.