Big East, C-USA Shuffle Members

From Staff and Wire Reports

Five members of Conference USA moved Tuesday to the Big East, which had three schools defect to the Atlantic Coast Conference during the summer.

But Conference USA wasted little time in replacing its defectors with four schools from two other conferences.

Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville, Marquette and South Florida left Conference USA and joined the Big East, which had lost Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College to the ACC. The new members will begin competing in the 2005-06 academic year.

Cincinnati, Louisville and South Florida replace those three in football to keep the Big East at eight members for that sport. DePaul and Marquette join for all other sports, giving the Big East 16 members, several of which are the country's premier basketball programs.

"We're going to be loaded right now in basketball," Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese said. "I think we're going to get better in football, and we'll have to."

The remaining football schools in the Big East are Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and West Virginia, with Connecticut becoming a full-time member next season. The other members are St. John's, Villanova, Providence, Georgetown, Notre Dame and Seton Hall.

"In 1990, when Miami joined the league and Big East football was created, we were measured on potential," Tranghese said. "These presidents are looking past today, to five, 10, 15 years down the road to what this league can be."

Conference USA moved quickly to replace the schools it lost, adding Marshall and Central Florida from the Mid-American Conference, and Rice, Southern Methodist and Tulsa from the Western Athletic Conference. The schools officially will join the conference July 1, 2005.

The defections of Cincinnati, Louisville and Marquette leave Conference USA without its three top basketball schools. Marquette reached the Final Four last year; Cincinnati and Louisville each played in the NCAA tournament.

"While we clearly would have preferred that no Big East expansion occur, that expectation was unrealistic given the actions of the ACC," Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky said.

"We are excited about the opportunity to strengthen the conference and feel C-USA has the potential to be better in many ways."



Left-hander Horacio Martinez of the Atlanta Braves gave up one hit in five innings and the United States defeated Colombia, 10-0, in an Americas pre-Olympic tournament game at Panama City stopped after seven innings because of the 10-run rule.

The U.S. (2-0), which is bidding for one of two automatic spots in the 2004 Athens Olympics, plays Panama (3-0) today in a key Group B game.

In a Group B game, Brazil upset Nicaragua, 3-0. Cuba leads Group A with a 2-0 record.



The International Assn. of Athletics Federations, track and field's world governing body, said it might consider doubling its two-year penalty for athletes testing positive for steroids or other serious banned substances.

The IAAF reduced its penalty for steroid offenses from four years to two in 1997 after courts in several countries refused to uphold the longer ban.

Top-seeded and No. 33-ranked Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand defeated qualifier Ilke Gers of New Zealand, 3-6, 6-2, 6-0, in the first round of the Volvo Women's Open at Pattaya, Thailand.

More than 20,000 private homes have been offered for rent during the Athens Olympics, the organizing committee said.

Nearly all the city's best hotel rooms -- and a few cruise ships -- have been reserved for the International Olympic Committee, sports officials, sponsors and others connected to the Olympics.

Patrick Casey, director of golf at Brentwood Country Club, has been selected the Southern California PGA golf professional of the year, and Don Parsons, a professional at Sandpiper Golf Course in Goleta, has been chosen the association's teacher of the year.

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