Philadelphia Big 5
New Philadelphia Big 5 logo as of 2013–14
|No. of teams||5|
|Most titles||Temple (27)|
|A-10, AAC, Big East, City 6 and
Ivy League basketball
The Big 5 is an informal association of college athletic programs in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is not a conference, but rather a group of NCAA Division I basketball schools who compete for the Philadelphia city championship.
The Big 5 consists of the University of Pennsylvania, La Salle University, Saint Joseph's University, Temple University, and Villanova University. All five schools are located in the Philadelphia area (Saint Joseph's straddles the city's border, and Villanova is in a nearby Main Line suburb).
Big 5 schools represent some of the oldest, most successful, and most well-known programs in the nation. Four of the five teams are in the top 40 for all-time Division I basketball victories. The history and tradition of Big 5 schools are also vast, such as the Saint Joseph's Hawk wing flapping, "V for Villanova", and the historic Palestra, among others.
The Big 5 creed reads: "They say there's no trophy for winning the Big Five. They must not be from Philadelphia."
The Big 5 was formed in 1955 a year after La Salle won the 1954 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament 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. Games were played as double or triple-headers. 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 proximity of the schools and their fans make the Big 5 a unique tradition in college basketball.
During the heyday of the Big 5, many major college programs, especially in the northeastern United States, were independents. As the Big East and Atlantic 10 conferences expanded to cover most of the Northeast (Villanova joined the Big East, while Temple, St. Joseph's, and La Salle joined the Atlantic 10), 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 La Salle, Temple, St. Joe's, and Villanova do not always use the Palestra for their home games in the series.
There are intense rivalries inside the Big 5, most notably the rivalry between Villanova and Saint Joseph's, also known as the Holy War. The St. Joe's–Temple rivalry has increased in intensity in recent years, mostly because of the "Goon Gate" incident in 2005 involving former Temple coach John Chaney where he sent in a player to intentionally foul John Bryant, which led to his fractured arm. La Salle considers Saint Joseph's to be its biggest rival.
As of 2016, at least one team from the Big 5 had made it into the NCAA Tournament for 39 straight years. La Salle and VIllanova are the only Big 5 teams to have won the tournament.
Each year the Herb Good Basketball Club selects All-Big 5 teams, as well as a coach of the year, and the most outstanding player in Big 5 competition receives the Robert V. Geasey Trophy.
Some have suggested adding Drexel to the Big 5. These talks amplified during the 2006–07 season, as Drexel beat three of the four Big 5 teams it played, but no changes have been made. Drexel is a member of the City 6, which is an intra-city intramural competition between the six schools.
All Big 5 men's basketball teams play each other once per season for a total of four games per team. There is no season-ending Big 5 Tournament, so a "champion" of the unofficial athletics group is determined by a round-robin tournament. Since 1956 there have been three instances of a five-way tie among all member schools, which occurred in 1980–81 (2–2 records), 1991–92 (1–1 records) and 1997–98 (1–1 records).
|Outright Big 5 title winner|
|Shared Big 5 title winners|
|Team (#)||Denotes the total number of titles for that school at that point|
|1955–56||Saint Joseph's (1)||4–0|
|1956–57||La Salle (1)
Saint Joseph's (2)
|1958–59||Saint Joseph's (3)||4–0|
|1959–60||Saint Joseph's (4)
|1960–61||Saint Joseph's (5)||4–0|
|1963–64||La Salle (2)||3–1|
|1964–65||Saint Joseph's (6)||4–0|
|1965–66||Saint Joseph's (7)||4–0|
|1967–68||Saint Joseph's (8)||3–1|
|1968–69||La Salle (3)||4–0|
|1974–75||La Salle (4)||4–0|
|1975–76||Saint Joseph's (9)
|1979–80||Saint Joseph's (10)||4–0|
|1980–81||La Salle (5)
St. Joseph's (11)
|1981–82||Saint Joseph's (12)
|1983–84||La Salle (6)
|1985–86||Saint Joseph's (13)
|1988–89||La Salle (7)
|1989–90||La Salle (8)||4–0|
|1990–91||Saint Joseph's (14)
|1991–92||La Salle (9)
Saint Joseph's (15)
|1994–95||Saint Joseph's (16)
|1997–98||La Salle (10)
Saint Joseph's (17)
|2002–03||Saint Joseph's (18)||4–0|
|2003–04||Saint Joseph's (19)||4–0|
|2011–12||Saint Joseph's (20)
|2012–13||La Salle (11)
Although known primarily of an association of Philadelphia sports teams, students from the Big 5 also coordinate frequent student government meetings. The governments consist of La Salle, the University of Pennsylvania, Temple, Saint Joseph's, and Drexel University instead of Villanova. Drexel has representation instead of Villanova since meetings primarily revolve around Philadelphia issues. Villanova is the only Big 5 college not located in the city. The schools convene to discuss and plan for school-centered programs including diversity, community affairs, and best practices.
- "Founding of the PHILADELPHIA BIG 5". Retrieved 2008-11-27.
- "Drexel, not in the Big 5, may be Philly's best". Athlon Sports. January 3, 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-09-04.
- "Move Over 'Nova". The Philadelphia Citypaper. May 23, 1996. Retrieved 2007-09-04.
- University of Pennsylvania University Archives and Records Center