Big East to represent U.S. at 2019 Pan Am Games

The Big East Conference will represent the United States at the 2019 Pan American Games, USA Basketball and the Big East announced Tuesday.

It's the first time a single Division I conference will represent the country in men's basketball at the Pan Am Games.

"We are very honored to have been chosen by the NCAA and USA Basketball to represent the United States in this prestigious competition," Big East commissioner Val Ackerman said. "This will be a unique educational, cultural and competitive experience for our participating players and coaches, and we look forward to working with Coach [Ed] Cooley to assemble the best possible group to carry the basketball flag in Peru."

Providence's Cooley will coach the team, according to the Big East. Cooley has been involved with USA Basketball for several years, dating to when he was a court coach for the USA U19 World Cup team in 2013. He was also on staff for the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in 2014 and the U19 World Championship in 2015.

"I am very honored to be asked to coach this unique squad of Big East players," Cooley said. "Any time you have the opportunity to represent your country, it is special. I have the highest level of respect for USA Basketball and the Big East as they are two organizations that have been so instrumental in my career development."

Speaking at Providence's on-campus practice facility, which will serve as the training site for the 12-player USA squad, Ackerman said the decision was a tribute to the conference that rebranded itself as a 10-team basketball league in 2013.

Since then, the Big East has captured two national championships (Villanova in 2016 and 2018).

"I applaud the NCAA for thinking outside the box and believing this would be an interesting way to bring schools from one conference together," Ackerman said. "It was a great day for us when we got that phone call from the NCAA. From our standpoint, we're really proud to be chosen. We see this as a great responsibility as well as a great honor."

The roster has not yet been announced.

Team USA hasn't won the gold medal at the Pan American Games since 1983, when the squad featured North Carolina sophomore Michael Jordan. Team USA earned silver medals in 1999, 1995 and 1987; bronze medals in 2015, 2011 and 1991; and failed to medal in 2007.

The 2019 Pan American Games will take place Aug. 6-10 in Lima, Peru.

"There's nothing like listening to the national anthem in another country," Cooley said. "You get goosebumps."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.