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Archive for Saturday, October 8, 2011

AP sources: Big East leaders discuss expansion

October 8, 2011

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— Big East leaders still aren’t sure which schools to invite to their troubled conference.

University presidents and chancellors, along with athletic directors, held a conference call Friday with Big East Commissioner John Marinatto to discuss expansion and the expected loss of TCU. But those talks didn’t lead to any decisions.

Two people who were on the call told The Associated Press no invitations were imminent because the members wanted more information about the schools being considered. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the Big East did not want its internal discussions made public.

TCU is scheduled to join the Big East in 2012, but it received an invitation to the Big 12 on Thursday. TCU has not officially accepted but that seems little more than a formality, with its board of trustees expected to vote soon. TCU must pay the Big East a $5 million exit fee but isn’t required to give 27 months’ notice to leave, since it is not an official conference member.

Syracuse and Pittsburgh already have announced they are leaving the Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Big East would be down to six football schools without TCU: West Virginia, Louisville, Cincinnati, South Florida, Rutgers and Connecticut.

The Big East’s nonfootball members are: DePaul, Marquette, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Villanova, Georgetown, Providence and Notre Dame.

Air Force, which is in the Mountain West Conference, and Navy, an independent in football, have been at the top of the Big East’s wish list as football-only members, but one of the people who spoke to the AP said those two schools were cautious about joining a league that seems so unsettled.

East Carolina has applied for membership to the Big East, and fellow Conference USA members Central Florida and Memphis long have been looking to join a conference with an automatic bid to the Bowl Championship Series.

Temple, which was pushed out of the Big East in 2005 and joined the Mid-American Conference in 2007, also has been mentioned as a possible candidate to rejoin.

Without firm commitments from current Big East members to stay put, Marinatto could have a hard time moving forward.

UConn and Rutgers have expressed interest in the ACC if the league decides to expand again.

West Virginia and Louisville have been mentioned as possible targets if the Big 12 adds more schools.

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