Texas Christian University will join the Big East conference on July 1, 2012, becoming the 17th member of the conference, now in its 32nd year.

TCU will leave the Mountain West Conference, which it joined in 2005. Prior to that season, TCU competed in Conference USA from 2000 through 2004 after starting in the Western Athletic Conference from 1996 to 2000.

TCU has an enrollment of 9,142 and will bring the Dallas-Fort Worth media market – the fifth largest in the nation – to the Big East, which already has teams in nine of the 35 largest media markets in the country. Georgetown Sports Information stated that traveling to Fort Worth for competitions at TCU will be incorporated into the existing budget and won’t have a large effect on the athletic budget.

“I think its for the stability of the league. It’s a good move,” men’s basketball Head Coach John Thompson III said. “Obviously, it’s football driven. How it will affect basketball, at this point, I don’t know how conference play will play out.”

The Big East is already the largest Division-IA conference and is currently in its sixth year with 16 schools. The league was formed on May 31, 1979, with Georgetown, Syracuse, St. John’s, Providence, Seton Hall, Connecticut and Boston College making up the original seven-school league.

TCU’s move is primarily motivated by football considerations. Currently, the MWC does not have an automatic bid for a Bowl Championship Series game in the Football Bowl Subdivision, but the Big East does. TCU would become the ninth member of the Big East’s football conference, and the Big East has extended an invitation to Villanova, the reigning champion of the Football Championship Subdivision, to become its 10th football team.

The Horned Frogs boast a 12-0 record and are currently ranked third in both the BCS standings and the AP Poll and are in line to receive an invitation to the Rose Bowl. West Virginia (24th in the BCS and 23rd in the AP) is the only Big East team in the top-25 right now, but unranked Connecticut stands to be the Big East’s BCS representative if the Huskies win this weekend. However, if No. 1 Auburn or No. 2 Oregon lose in the coming week, then TCU could find itself playing for the BCS national championship.

The other members of the Big East football conference are Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Louisville, South Florida, Rutgers, Syracuse and Cincinnati. Notre Dame’s football team is independent in the FBS, while Georgetown plays in the FCS. Marquette, DePaul, Providence, Seton Hall and St. John’s no longer have football programs.

TCU’s move also means schedule changes for men’s basketball. Currently, Big East teams play an 18-game conference schedule, playing every team at least once, with three repeat games. As a result of the Horned Frogs’ decision to join the league, there will be one fewer repeat game every year. Historically, TCU does not have a particularly strong basketball program but is currently 6-2 in men’s basketball, with two conference games apiece against No. 19 San Diego State, No. 23 University of Nevada Las Vegas and No. 25 Brigham Young University later in the season.

Big East women’s basketball only has a 15-game conference schedule, with one matchup against each team. The Horned Frogs were ranked 25th in the ESPN coaches’ poll last week, but three consecutive losses dropped them from the rankings. “

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