Home for Huskies: UConn officially accepts invitation back to Big East

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NEW YORK -

UConn is officially headed back in the Big East Conference.

School president Susan Herbst shared a hug with Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman after the announcement was made Thursday at Madison Square Garden.

The Huskies expect to rejoin the Big East on July 1, 2020 – six years after they left for the American Athletic Conference.

"The opportunity to add a member who's a national basketball brand, that's in our geographic footprint, who has an outstanding fan base…All of that taken together represented an opportunity that we simply couldn't pass up," said Ackerman.

The move is designed to energize the school's fan base by renewing some old rivalries. It also means an end to costly road trips to states such as Texas, Oklahoma and Florida for conference games. UConn is currently dealing with a deficit in its athletic division of more than $40 million.

The school hasn't indicated what it plans to do with its football program, a sport not offered by the Big East. But as part of the contract with the Big East, UConn has agreed not to seek football membership at this time in any Power Five conference and to pay a $30 million exit fee if it leaves the Big East during its first six years of membership. The fee would eventually drop to $15 million and later $10 million.

UConn was a charter member of the Big East, which was formed in 1979. The Huskies never actually left the conference. The American Athletic Conference was formed by UConn and the other remaining conference schools in 2013 after the league's basketball-focused private schools broke away, eventually negotiating to take the conference name with them.

The move back to the conference is going to cost UConn at least $13.5 million. Herbst, however, said it will pay for itself and that season ticket sales have already skyrocketed since the Big East news broke last weekend.

AP Wire Services contributed to this report.

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