The University of Connecticut is reportedly done trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, as reports emerged Friday night and Saturday morning that the school is looking to leave the American Athletic Conference and return to the Big East.
As first reported by Digital Sports Desk and since confirmed by Yahoo, UConn will leave its far-flung, football-centric conference to return its prized men’s and women’s basketball programs to the Big East, where the Huskies were a founding member back in 1979. UConn’s athletic identity is built around hardwood battles with Villanova and Georgetown and, during the swirling winds of the realignment period in the early years of this decade, the Huskies somehow found themselves separated from their longtime friends and rivals and playing football games in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Memphis, Tennessee — all in service a football program that doesn’t win games and doesn’t make money.
Hence, this weekend’s news.
As for what it would mean for Randy Edsall‘s football program, not much is clear. Yahoo speculated the Huskies could try to make it as an FBS independent, but UConn had half a century of success as a Division I-AA member, so a return to FCS seems like it should at least be a discussion point.
The American, meanwhile, would obviously be hurt to lose its top two basketball programs, but the league wouldn’t be sad to see UConn football go.
Navy is a football-only member of the American while parking its Olympic sports in the Patriot League, so the American could approach another school about joining as a football-only member — Army, Air Force, BYU and Boise State immediately come to mind. The league could then use UConn’s Olympic sports spot to add another regional basketball power, as it did with Wichita State. VCU is one school mentioned in the Yahoo report.
On Saturday afternoon, UConn released this statement:
While that statement certainly does not confirm that UConn is leaving for the Big East, it also does not say UConn will remain proud AAC members into the future.