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Reports: UConn Is Returning To The Big East Conference

UConn's mascot and cheerleaders during a timeout.

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 28: The Connecticut Huskies cheerleaders and mascot perform during the regional semifinal of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 28, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Perhaps no school has struggled with conference realignment more than UConn. The longtime college hoops powerhouse has a fairly recent national title in that time span, but in recent years has struggled to even make the NCAA Tournament.

Fans have placed much of the blame on the school's conference situation. The AAC, a league that developed from the rubble of the Big East after realignment, bares little resemblance to the conference that UConn thrived in for much of the 1990s and 2000s.

After the departures of Pitt, Syracuse, and Louisville to the ACC, Rutgers to the Big Ten, and West Virginia to the Big 12, the remainder of the Big East essentially split in two. The "basketball schools"—Villanova, Georgetown, Seton Hall, Marquette, et al—took the Big East moniker and launched a new league for all sports but football.

The rest, UConn included, launched the AAC.

Given UConn basketball's struggles, and the complete ineffectiveness of the football program, the schools is reportedly heading back to the Big East.

The huge news was initially reported by Boston-based website Digital Sports Desk. The Hartford Couranthas confirmed it.

UConn is on the verge of joining the Big East for all sports that the conference sponsors, sources confirmed Saturday morning. Though the university is awaiting and fully expecting an official invitation from the Big East, an announcement of the Huskies' move is forthcoming.

This move will return UConn to its storied basketball roots and trigger long-term security and better opportunity for its two programs in that sport. However, UConn must figure out what to do with its football program. Dropping the program is not being considered. It is highly unlikely that the American Athletic Conference would have interest in retaining UConn as a football-only member, though with scheduling done well in advance the Huskies are expected to play in the AAC for the upcoming season.

As of this morning, UConn is officially denying the report:

The move will be a very popular one for UConn's basketball programs, which will allow for the return to some of the rivalries that they had during the program's glory days. That raises a big issue for the football program. The AAC will almost definitely not house the team, which leaves UConn the options of joining a smaller league, like the MAC, or going on as an independent, which presents distinct scheduling challenges, especially for a relatively remote Northeastern program. Mike Anthony of the Courant says that dropping football is not an option:

This makes for a very interesting situation overall, but one that basketball-starved Huskies fans have to be thrilled about.

[Digital Sports Desk; Hartford Courant]