Jan. 24, 2012
Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Admiral Michael Miller, USN announced Tuesday in conjunction with BIG EAST Commissioner John Marinatto that the Naval Academy has accepted a formal invitation from the BIG EAST to become a football-only member of the conference starting with the 2015 season.
The Naval Academy and the BIG EAST have agreed to a three-year phase-in period during which a scheduling partnership will be created and leading to a full schedule of eight games in 2015. During that period, Navy will continue its current partnership with CBS and post-season bowls. In anticipation of full football membership, Navy will be included in all future television, marketing, promotion, and bowl negotiations by the BIG EAST Conference effective immediately.
"The Naval Academy is pleased to accept the invitation for our football team to join the BIG EAST conference," said Miller. "After careful consideration, we believe this affiliation to be in the best interests of the Naval Academy, our athletic programs and the Brigade of Midshipmen. While our independent status has served Navy Football well to date, BIG EAST conference affiliation will help ensure our future scholar-athletes and athletic programs remain competitive at the highest levels for the foreseeable future."
"When people look back, they will mark this as a truly historic day for the BIG EAST Conference," said Commissioner John Marinatto. "America's first national football conference is adding a program with true national appeal. Navy's decision to make the BIG EAST its first football conference home after over 100 years of independence demonstrates the value of our new expansion model and the long-term viability of our football product. The BIG EAST is truly proud to be associated with one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the country and one of the most storied programs in college football."
The Naval Academy has established itself as one of the nation's elite institutions in both academic and athletic prowess. Navy has annually ranked near the top of both the NCAA's APR and Graduation Success Rate for student-athletes. This past year, Navy's Graduation Success Rate of 96% places the Academy in the top four of all FBS institutions.
On the gridiron the Midshipmen have compiled a record of 75-40 (.652) over the last nine seasons with the 75 wins ranking as the 20th most in the country (and third most among current or future Big East Schools ranking behind Boise State and West Virginia) over that period. The Mids have gone to a bowl game in eight of the last nine years and their 18 wins over schools from a BCS conference are the most of any non-BCS school over that same nine-year period.
"The BIG EAST will provide an expanded stage for the American public to see our nation's future leaders," said Naval Academy Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk. "Expanded media opportunities and coverage by the BIG EAST will elevate the national visibility of Navy football to the highest levels. This new affiliation will brand Navy football as a member of a BCS conference whose competitive aspirations include the opportunity to compete for a championship. The BIG EAST plays a prominent role in the NCAA governance structure and affiliation will ensure that the Naval Academy solidifies its position as an important contributor to leadership decisions on a national level. The future direction of Division I athletics and the vision for collegiate football will include insights and input brought to the table by the Naval Academy administration."
Joining the BIG EAST will not require any degree of government/taxpayer money. Membership, rather, will enhance opportunities for revenue generation in support of the physical mission and the Brigade to a significant degree. New opportunities for revenues will significantly exceed what Navy can generate as an Independent in football. The business model that correlates with joining the BIG EAST illustrates an unparalleled opportunity to stabilize the financial condition of both the Naval Academy Athletic Association and the Academy's support for the physical mission at large. This includes 32 varsity sports, 14 club programs, intramurals, physical education, and mission related facilities.
Television exposure and opportunities for marketing/promotion will be greatly enhanced through BIG EAST membership. The BIG EAST television footprint represents 30% of the nation's households.
"This is an exciting time to be a part of the Navy football program," said Navy head football coach Ken Niumatalolo. "There is no doubt the BIG EAST will be a challenging league for us to compete in every year, but the young men that come to Navy want to compete against the best and I believe this will open up some recruiting doors that we've been unable to open in the past."
The Naval Academy will continue to annually compete against Army and Air Force for the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy and its rivalry with Notre Dame will continue as the longest, continuous intersectional matchup in FBS football.
"It is important to the U.S. Naval Academy, as a premier source for producing the next generation of Naval and Marine Corps officers, that Navy football remains relevant as well as highly visible on the national stage," said Miller. "This has proven to be the case over the last decade and it will perpetuate itself with this new affiliation."