Big East leaders discuss expansion

Posted Oct. 07, 2011, at 5:17 p.m.

NEW YORK — Big East leaders held a conference call Friday to talk about expansion and the expected loss of TCU, but no decisions were made on which schools to invite to the troubled league.

Two people who took part in the call told The Associated Press that no invites were imminent because the university presidents, chancellors and athletic directors who took part in the call with Commissioner John Marinatto 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.

Big East spokesman John Paquette declined to comment.

TCU, which was scheduled to join the Big East in 2012, received an invitation to the Big 12 on Thursday. TCU officials have not officially accepted but that seems little more than a formality.

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 the Big East.

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

The governor of Connecticut has said UConn has interest in the ACC, and there has been speculation about Rutgers joining that league if it decided to expand again. The additions of Pitt and Syracuse will give the ACC 14 members, and its commissioner, John Swofford, has said the league is comfortable staying there.

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

TCU would replace Texas A&M, which is leaving for the Southeastern Conference, and give the Big 12 10 members again. But for how long?

Earlier this week Missouri announced its intentions to explore making a jump to another conference. Missouri could be heading to the SEC, but there’s no guarantee that league wants the Tigers.

Now the Big 12 and the Big East are waiting to see what Missouri does.

If the Tigers stay put, the Big East is less likely to lose additional members.

Notre Dame competes in the Big East in everything except football and wants very much to remain an independent in football. But if the Big East were to collapse, that could force the Fighting Irish to join a conference.

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