NEW YORK - Temple University athletic director Bill Bradshaw knew that Wednesday would be special as he drove down the Schuylkill Expressway at 6:30 a.m. and turned on the car radio.

"The sun is shining, there's not a cloud in the sky, and . . . it's Ruby and the Romantics from 1963," Bradshaw said. "The song is 'Our Day Will Come,' and I said, this is going to be a special day.

"So that's how it started out."

It ended as one of the more notable days in the history of the Owls' athletic program, and a satisfying day of vindication as well.

Temple was formally introduced as an incoming member of the Big East Conference during a late-afternoon news conference at Madison Square Garden, where conference executives were assembled for the Big East basketball tournament.

The Big East Conference university presidents, by a unanimous vote, extended the invitation to Temple. The motion to invite Temple was made by Villanova - a graceful turn, since Villanova was long rumored to have opposed Temple's entering the league.

The Owls will join the Big East for football beginning with the 2012 season and for all other sports in 2013. In July the school will officially leave the Mid-American Conference; it had been a football-only member of the MAC since 2007.

Temple will remain in the Atlantic Ten Conference for all other sports for one more year.

Temple must pay $6 million in penalty fees to exit the MAC. The Big East will help with those expenses. The Owls will have to pay the A-10 $1 million to leave with one year's notice.

The Big East will give Temple $3 million. The league also will lend the Owls an interest-free $3 million to be paid back in 2013, 2014, and 2015.

Lewis Katz, a member of the Temple board of trustees and chairman of its athletics committee, said the Owls will receive between $7 million and $8 million annually as a member of the Big East.

"The new revenues for Temple are $7 million more than we were having in the MAC," Katz said with enthusiasm. "It's almost an $8 million turnaround, because we are losing $700,000 [presently]. And someone says here's $7 million."

The invitation from the Big East, which booted the then-hapless Temple football program out of the conference in 2004, is a sweet development for the university. It recognizes the resurgence of the Owls' football program and it bails out the Big East, which has seen powerhouse programs such as Boston College and West Virginia abandon it as the whole of college football shuffles madly for richer conference alignments. Syracuse and Pittsburgh have indicated they will leave the Big East.

West Virginia's immediately leaving for the Big 12 Conference had left the Big East with yawning holes in its 2012 football schedule. Fast-tracking Temple's reentry as a football member fixes all of that.

The Big East football conference will consist of Temple, Rutgers, Louisville, Syracuse, Cincinnati, Connecticut, South Florida, and Pittsburgh.

Pitt and Syracuse will leave for the Atlantic Coast Conference as early as 2013. The Big East then will add Boise State and San Diego State for football only for the 2013 season. Memphis, Houston, Southern Methodist, and Central Florida will join then as all-sports members. Navy will join the league only for football in 2015.

Temple was a Big East member for football when the league added the sport in 1991. The Owls were kicked out in 2004 because of their lack of success on the field and at the box office.

Temple was 2-9 in the 2004 season, with many of those losses being routs. The Owls are likely to be more competitive this time around. They are coming off three consecutive winning campaigns. Temple finished last season with a 9-4 record and posted a 37-15 victory over Wyoming in the New Mexico Bowl.

That marked the Owls' second bowl appearance in three seasons and their first bowl victory since they beat California in the Garden State Bowl in 1979.

Temple was invited to join the Big East when it was founded, primarily as a basketball conference, in 1979. Decades after passing on the opportunity, the Owls will become a basketball member after spending next season in the A-10.

National powers such as Georgetown, Connecticut, Marquette, and Louisville await the Temple basketball program. Temple already plays Big Five member Villanova.

"I think Temple is a great addition," UConn coach Jim Calhoun said. "I can't get a word in edgewise with [Louisville coach] Rick [Pitino] praising Temple. I always thought Temple would be a great addition, being Philadelphia . . .

"But my point is, Temple will be a great addition to our league. They've got a tremendous coach. It's a great city for basketball. And I know that it will make an incredible trip there for a lot of folks."

For now, Temple coach Fran Dunphy will tell you the Big East isn't his focus. His 21st-ranked Owls face Massachusetts at noon Friday in an A-10 tourney semifinal at Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall.

"I'm worried about UMass, actually," said Dunphy, who was not at the Big East press conference. "I haven't really thought about it. I have to keep focusing."

Contact Keith Pompey at 215-854-2939 or kpompey@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/pompeysgridlock. Read his blog at www.philly.com/OwlsInq