GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Less than a week after ECU publicly announced they were looking to join the Big 12 Conference, the Greenville City Council came out to endorse the decision.
In a statement released Tuesday, council members said the move would have positive impacts on the university, city and area.
“If you’re not your strongest advocate, who will be,” asked Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas.
Thomas said joining a power five conference would put Greenville on the national map, and bring in millions more for area hotels and businesses.
“Imagine the scene of an Oklahoma or a Texas, these stadiums that seat close to a 100,000 people coming down to this community,” he said.
ECU joins other schools looking to join the power five conference, claiming they could bring the entire state of North Carolina with them.
“Our numbers match up with every single school in the North Carolina market, go back and look it up,” Thomas said. “The Tar Heels do very well, but East Carolina and NC State are very comparable.”
If ECU were to leave the American Athletic Conference, they would have to pay a penalty of about $10 million.
However, by joining the Big 12 Conference, ECU would join other schools in getting about $25 million annually from media deals. That is compared to the approximately $3 million they get in the American.
“We’d continue to see our university expand. We’re going to continue to see our facilities improve,” said Councilman McLean Godley, who graduated from ECU less than two years ago.
The number of schools the Big 12 is looking to add is still unclear, with between two and four being floated around. ECU joins a growing list of schools interested in joining, including fellow American rivals like Cincinnati, Houston and UCONN.
WNCT reached out to ECU leadership on Tuesday, but were told it is too early in the process to make a statement.