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For the first time since 1990-91 each of the schools will play the other four. After an eight-year hiatus, the Big Five is back to its old format. The athletic directors from Penn, St. Joseph's, Villanova, La Salle and Temple announced yesterday that the Philadelphia Big Five City Series will return to the traditional four-team round robin format beginning with the 1999-2000 season. Officially signed into existence on November 23, 1954, in a meeting between the presidents of the five Philadelphia schools held in Houston Hall, the Big Five thrived as a Philadelphia institution from 1955 to 1986 with the Palestra serving as the exclusive home to the Big Five doubleheaders. On June 25, 1986, the five presidents signed a 10-year pact to continue the round-robin format but with games being played at the schools' respective home courts or at the Spectrum instead of exclusively at Penn's Palestra. However, with the expansion of the Big East, Villanova successfully petitioned for the Big Five in May of 1991 to change to a two-team round robin format, starting with the 1991-92 season. From 1991-92 to this past season, each Big Five school played just two official City Series games. However, a desire to keep tradition alive has led most of the member schools, with the exception of Villanova, to play as many Big 5 opponents each year as possible. This past season, Penn officially finished 1-1 while going 3-1 overall against Big 5 schools. The Quakers defeated La Salle 62-58, beat Temple in overtime 73-70 and downed St. Joseph's 66-58 but lost 74-63 at Villanova. In 1990-91, the last year in which the Big Five played 10 official City Series games in a full round-robin, then-second-year coach Fran Dunphy's Penn squad finished fourth with an 0-4 record. Prior to this season, the Quakers' last 3-1 Big Five campaign came in 1978-79, when they tied Temple for the lead. Recent changes to Big East and NCAA policy have added three non-conference games to the Wildcats' schedule, causing them to reverse their demand from the beginning of the decade. This past week the Big East reduced the number of league games form 18 to 16 and the NCAA allowed teams to add a 28th game to their regular season schedules, freeing up room in Villanova's schedule to accommodate a return to the traditional Big Five format.

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