UConn in the Big East: Returning Back to National Relevance

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The Connecticut Huskies are meant to be in the Big East Conference. As a founding member in the league’s inaugural season (1979-80), an opportunity has presented itself for UConn to rejoin the elite and storied basketball power. A conference of the Big East presidents approved a motion to add the former member back to its ranks for the 2020-21 season.

After only 6 years in the American Athletic Conference, the move highlights the difficulties UConn has had maintaining a quality basketball product outside of the Big East. The decision to join the AAC in the 2013-14 season was largely based on trying to lift the university’s football program up and create more revenue. Surprisingly, the change of scenery didn’t help the football team or the basketball program.

As the school’s athletic staple, returning the basketball program to its former heights is the primary reason UConn is seeking a return to the Big East. Despite bringing home a title in 2013-14, the transition from coaching legend Jim Calhoun to Kevin Ollie was not the smoothest. Ollie did not show a consistent ability to lure and keep top talent on UConn teams.

His replacement, Bobby Hurley, had an average season in 2018, but there was a renewed energy and sense of excitement around the team. In the early season 2k Classic, played at Madison Square Garden, the Huskies defeated long-time rival Syracuse 83-76. If the early results are any indication, picking Hurley to lead UConn back to relevance was the right call by the university’s brass.

The change in conferences only adds to the excitement and potential success Hurley is building around the program. Already with a strong recruiting class inked this Summer, Connecticut can use renewed rivalries with traditional powers (e.g., Villanova, Georgetown), increased national exposure and playing in Madison Square Garden to lure recruits back to Storrs.

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