Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Philadelphia Big 5
- For other uses of the term "Big Five" and its variants, see Big five (disambiguation).
The Philadelphia Big 5 is an association of college athletic programs in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The five schools are the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, Saint Joseph's University, Villanova University, and La Salle University. All of the schools are within the city limits except for Villanova, located in a nearby Main Line suburb. The Big 5 was formed in 1955 in order to showcase the rich basketball talent in the city and help pay for the upkeep on the Palestra, where the games historically took place. All schools agreed to split ticket and concessions revenues equally once Penn was paid for upkeep costs on the Palestra. The intense rivalries between the teams and the close proximity of the schools and their fans make the Big 5 a unique tradition in college basketball.
Historically, games were played as double or tripleheaders. However, changes in the structure of college basketball in the last quarter of the 20th century caused the Big 5 to lose much of its significance. During the heyday of the Big 5, many major college programs, especially in the northeastern U.S., were independents. As the Big East and Atlantic Ten Conferences expanded to cover most of the Northeast, and as college basketball became increasingly driven by television and its need to appeal to a broad national audience, the local character of the Big 5 was a liability. The round-robin series ended in 1991.
In 1999, the Big 5 round-robin series was revived, and has continued to this day. Some things have changed from the series' heyday; the schools no longer evenly split the proceeds from the games, and Villanova and Temple do not use the Palestra for their home games in the series. Nonetheless, the revival of the Big 5 provides a living link to the past of college basketball.
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