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Seton Hall University has been a proud member of the BIG EAST Conference since 1979, when it helped charter the league as one of seven founding members. In 2013, Seton Hall was part of spearheading a new era in the BIG EAST, which transformed into a 10-member conference and returned to its basketball-centered roots.
Prior to its inception, the Pirates shared five different conference affiliations over the first century of their athletic competition.
Even though Seton Hall was the first Catholic college to field a men's basketball team, the Pirates maintained their status as an unaligned independent until shortly after World War II. In November, 1947, Seton Hall became one of the founding members of the East Coast Athletic Conference (ECAC) along with Boston College, Colgate, New York University and Syracuse University.
It was around that same time that the Pirates began to compete in the IC4-A and the Eastern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (EIAA), in addition to maintaining regional rivalries with St. Bonaventure, Saint Joseph's and St. Peter's.
Seton Hall's conference affiliation changed twice more in the following decades as the Pirates joined the Metropolitan Collegiate Conference in the 1960's, along with Fairleigh Dickinson, Hofstra, Manhattan and Wagner, and became affiliated with the New Jersey-New York Basketball Seven in the mid-1970's, partnering with Columbia, Fordham, Manhattan, Princeton, St. John's and Rutgers.
The NJ-NY Seven lasted just three seasons as the desire to create a super conference intensified. The northeast was littered with a large number of prominent academic institutions with storied and successful athletic programs, but in the late 1970's there was no glue to tie any of them together.
With the success of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), BIG 10 and PAC-10 in mind, the BIG EAST Conference was formally introduced on May 31, 1979.
Seton Hall was one of just seven founding members of the BIG EAST, along with Boston College, Connecticut, Georgetown, Providence, St. John's and Syracuse; all prestigious college rich in both athletic and academic tradition.
While the foundation of the BIG EAST was partially motivated by the desire to create a first rate basketball conference in the northeast, as inaugural commissioner Dave Gavitt said, "The BIG EAST is not simply a league of convenience, but one of commitment."
In the first year of its existence, the conference staged championships in cross country, indoor track, outdoor track, golf, tennis and swimming, as well as the first BIG EAST men's basketball championship which was held February 28-March 1, in Providence, R.I. Seton Hall played host to the first-ever BIG EAST conference basketball contest, as they battled Boston College on Dec. 11, 1979, at Walsh Auditorium. Boston College won the game, 82-61.
Seton Hall joined the BIG EAST as a proud founding member more than thirty years ago, and through its affiliation with one of the most diverse and successful NCAA athletic conferences in the nation, SHU has seen all of its athletic programs grow in national prominence.