FedEx a major player in U of M's move to Big East - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

FedEx a major player in U of M's move to Big East

(WMC-TV) - A standing ovation from a standing room only crowd accompanied Wednesday's announcement that the University of Memphis is moving to the Big East.

"It's a great day to be a Tiger," said University of Memphis President Dr. Shirley Raines.

University of Memphis Athletic Director R.C. Johnson led the charge, but shared credit with area business leaders, including FedEx executive Alan Graf.

"There were some down moments, but we never gave up," said Graf.

A long-time Tigers supporter and booster, Graf is among a group that had been lobbying for realignment all along.

"Throughout that whole process, we never stopped talking to everybody who would listen," said Graf.  "We just kept saying Memphis and whispering it in everybody's ear."

Graf said FedEx does not have agreements or commitments with the Big East, but the international shipping giant will be proactive.

"There are 32 million households with television sets in the Big East cities, and so as sports marketers at FedEx, we're of course going to explore all the possible opportunities there are up to and including maybe the championship football game, which will come in 2015 or '16," said Graf.

At Wednesday's press conference, the mood was positive in hopes of the Tigers' bright future.

"We are part of the elite now," said University of Memphis booster Cato Johnson.

"There's a nexus there with education, athletics, and economic development," said Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell.  "It's a good day for our community."

University officials said their realignment cause was also boosted by commitments to academics and to building new facilities.

The University of Memphis begins Big East membership on July 1, 2013.

Copyright 2012 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly