SBD/November 2, 2011/Colleges

Big East Officials Meet, Give Commissioner Green Light To Invite New Members

Univ. of Houston could be one of several teams added to the Big East by Friday
Boise State, Houston, SMU and UCF “could be added as Big East members by Friday,” according to sources cited by Brett McMurphy of CBSSPORTS.com. Sources said that Big East presidents and chancellors met in Philadelphia yesterday and “authorized league commissioner John Marinatto to issue invitations to those schools -- along with Navy and Air Force.” There have been “no ‘official invitations’ extended to the schools, but Marinatto has been in constant contact and spoke to representatives of all six schools” after yesterday’s meeting. Boise State, Houston, SMU and UCF “prefer to be announced as league members together and must wait until Boise State’s board meeting” tomorrow. Houston, SMU and UCF would be full members, while Boise State, Navy and Air Force would be joining for only football. Representatives from all those schools except for Air Force held a conference call yesterday and they “are ‘100 percent’ on board in joining together with the only possible hang-up being Boise State,” which needs to find “a conference home for its Olympic sports.” A source said that Navy “has told the other schools on Tuesday's call it ‘is definitely in’ and Air Force is expected to join once Navy commits. McMurphy reported TCU’s entrance fee to join the Big East was $2.5M “and the new members’ entrance fee is expected to be the same.” Meanwhile, Marinatto in a statement said, “In light of the lawsuit filed by West Virginia yesterday, the Presidents also discussed and confirmed our continuing commitment to enforce the Conference’s 27-month notification period for schools choosing to leave” (CBSSPORTS.com, 11/1). UCF Assistant VP/News & Information Grant Heston said, “We have not received an invitation from the Big East. However, we understand that things are moving in that direction” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 11/2). Navy AD Chet Gladchuk yesterday added that he “had heard about the conference’s vote, but that was about it.” Gladchuk: “I don’t have any new information on my end regarding the Big East” (WASHINGTON TIMES, 11/2).

COMMISSIONER'S DOZEN
: Marinatto said that he “hoped to expand the conference to 12 teams in football.” He said that that “would enable the league to have a championship game and perhaps a western division.” The timetable for expansion “is unclear, but Marinatto was hoping to add members over the next week” (N.Y. TIMES, 11/2). In N.Y., Lenn Robbins notes the league “will have to add at least one more member to get to the desired 12 in football.” Sources said that “the league will not rush on the last invite.” Temple and Memphis “are candidates” and sources said that the Big East “has considered Army and BYU, although both are considered long shots” (N.Y. POST, 11/2).

POTENTIAL HOLD UP: In Boise, Brian Murphy reports if Boise State makes a BCS game at the end of the season “it could cost them up to $21 million to exit the Mountain West” for the '12 football season. The school would pay “far less to get out of the league” in ’13. Meanwhile, C-USA Assistant Commissioner for Public Affairs Courtney Morrison-Archer said that according to conference bylaws, UCF, SMU and Houston “would not be able to compete in the Big East until 2013.” Those teams would “have to pay a $500,000 exit fee and relinquish about $6.13 million in television revenue” (IDAHO STATESMAN, 11/2). In Dallas, Kate Hairopoulos cites a source as saying that while the Big East “is weakened by its recent losses, it still has a viable future because a lucrative television contract is expected no matter the new line up of schools.” Negotiations begin “within the year in a competitive market.” SMU could receive “a raise of $10 million or more annually from the less than $1.5 million in TV money it currently receives from C-USA” (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 11/2).

MAKING A BASKETBALL CONFERENCE CARE ABOUT FOOTBALL: SportsNet N.Y.'s Don MacPherson called the Big East a "strange conference," as the league has to "keep the basketball schools happy, and yet at the same time football is driving the bus on all of this realignment." There are a "lot of people who believe that the Big East, at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day, is a basketball conference." MacPherson: "Can you just imagine Central Florida playing Boise for the Big East championship? That is just not a Big East championship.” The N.Y. Daily News' Frank Isola said, "The majority of people look at the Big East as a basketball conference. I don't think they look at it as a football conference because if you put a gun to someone's head and say, ‘Name all of the Big East football schools,’ they wouldn't know.” WFAN-AM’s Joe Benigno: “There’s no sex appeal for a Big East football conference anyway, even when they had everybody together” (“Daily News Live,” SportsNet N.Y., 11/1).
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