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Colleges roundup: Tulane, ECU join Big East, ACC sues Maryland

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---The shuffle among college conferences continued Tuesday as Tulane and East Carolina announced they would leave Conference USA to join the Big East Conference.

The New Orleans school announced the move in a statement from president Scott Cowen that it will move to the Big East in all sports in 2014. East Carolina will join the league the same year as a football-only member.

"Tulane University is pleased to accept membership in the Big East Conference," Cowen said. "The Big East is a distinguished collection of institutions that will be a wonderful home for Tulane.

"We look forward to our mutual association and we are delighted to welcome the Big East to the Big Easy."

Added "ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard: "ECU is excited to become a football member of the Big East Conference. We know we will be successful and add value to the Big East. While hundreds of dedicated Pirates have contributed to this day, I especially want to recognize the relentless energy of Terry Holland and Nick Floyd in making this day a reality. It is a great day to be a Pirate."

Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco said that the conference's "'basketball schools,' like Providence College, St. John's and Georgetown are united in their support of this new football model"

The Big East has seen significant changes in a little more than a year. West Virginia, TCU, Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame have announced plans to depart, and will be replaced by Temple, Boise State, San Diego State, Memphis, UCF, Houston, SMU and Navy over the next three years.

Tulane and ECU have been members of Conference USA since 1995 and 1997, respectively.

---The Atlantic Coast Conference has sued Maryland for the full $52.3 million exit fee for its Big Ten move, according to multiple reports.

In a 10-page lawsuit, the conference seeks $52,266,342.

Commissioner John Swofford said in statement that the ACC's council of presidents decided unanimously "to file legal action to ensure enforcement of this obligation."

"We continue to extend our best wishes to the University of Maryland; however, there is the expectation that Maryland will fulfill its exit fee obligation," he said.

The league's exit fee was raised to $50 million in September after Notre Dame joined in all sports non-football sports. Maryland and Florida State were the only two schools to vote against the increase.

Maryland President Wallace D. Loh told The Washington Post that he voted against the increase associated with Notre Dame because he believed the higher fee was "illegal and philosophically not a good idea."

---North Carolina Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham told Tar Heels fans in an email Tuesday that the school will stay in the Atlantic Coast Conference "for another 60 years at least."

"Thank you for your recent correspondence regarding conference affiliation for the University of North Carolina," wrote Cunningham, trying squash rumors that the school was eyeing a conference move. "Conference alignment is a topic of much discussion nationally these days and we understand that our fans are passionate and knowledgeable of their sports programs.

"Carolina is a charter member of the Atlantic Coast Conference and we believe the ACC is the finest conference in the nation. The ACC has been our home for nearly 60 years and we want it to be our home for another 60 years at least. Our speculating on what other league may be better for the Tar Heels would not be productive. We are part of a great league with a strong future and we know that the ACC leadership is serious in its efforts to strengthen the conference and position it for long-term success." Earlier this month, the ACC lost Maryland, a charter member, to the Big Ten conference.

"All of us in the ACC, including the league office and individual schools, continue to carefully monitor the changes that take place in conference alignment," Cunningham wrote. "But again, we are proud members of a great league and are looking forward to many more years of success in the ACC by the Tar Heels and other ACC schools."

---Grand Canyon University will join the Western Athletic Conference next year, the WAC announced Tuesday.

The move is contingent on Grand Canyon completing the reclassification process from NCAA Division II to Division I. The Antelopes will begin regular-season play in 2013-14, but won't be eligible for championships or for postseason games.

"We welcome Grand Canyon University to the WAC and look forward to helping them make the transition in becoming a highly competitive Division I institution," WAC Interim Commissioner Jeff Hurd said in a statement. "This is another important step in the rebuilding process of the WAC as we continue to strengthen the conference."

Grand Canyon will become the conference's sixth member for 2013-14, joining California State University, Bakersfield; the University of Idaho; New Mexico State University; Seattle University and Utah Valley University.

---The University of Kentucky has brought in Mark Stoops as the new football head coach.

First reported by Kentucky Sports Radio and later confirmed by multiple media outlets, the soon-to-be-former Florida State defensive coordinator has accepted an offer to replace Joker Phillips as the Wildcats' head coach.

Phillips was fired earlier this month after a 1-9 start.

The hiring isn't official, but the Orlando Sentinel reported that Stoops was on the Florida State campus and expected to attend practice Tuesday afternoon.

The 45-year-old becomes the third Stoops brother to head a BCS conference program. Older brother Bob is Oklahoma's head coach, while older brother Mike coach at Arizona.

Stoops defensive mind will be utilized to turn around a unit that ranked 11th in total defense in the SEC last season.
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