Navy has committed to join the Big East for football in 2015. The conference had planned to find a 14th member to balance out its divisions even before Rutgers left. BYU and Air Force were top targets for that spot.
Aresco said that the Big East could even expand to 16 members, depending on what schools are available.
“We have to let that play out,” he said.
Officials from San Diego State and Boise State have said they are still committed to joining the Big East but have expressed a desire for the conference to add more western schools.
“They absolutely are extremely committed to the Big East,” Aresco said. “We absolutely will be looking at some western schools.”
The Big East’s membership also includes seven schools, including Georgetown and St. John’s, that either do not have football teams or don’t compete at the FBS level, but have helped it become a premier basketball conference.
Tulane seems an odd choice based on the school’s recent performance in football and men’s basketball, the two most prominent sports.
The Green Wave haven’t been to a bowl game since 2002 and last made the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in 1995. Tulane just completed a 2-10 football season under first-year coach Curtis Johnson.
It hasn’t always been this way for Tulane. Cowen said in the decade before Hurricane Katrina devastated the school in 2005, forcing it to shut down for a semester, Tulane won more sports championships than any program in C-USA.
Cowen said it took three years for the university to fully recover.
“Once we recovered financially and academically, we invested heavily in athletics,” he said.
He said the school has sunk $125 million into the athletic department for facilities and coaches. Tulane will open a new on-campus football stadium in 2014, which the school hopes will rejuvenate interest in the team.