Big East Commissioner Marinatto Says League Will "Aggressively Pursue" Expansion
Big East Commissioner John Marinatto was authorized to “aggressively pursue” expansion Sunday, and he said the schools “feel much more positive” about the future of the league and its sustainability, according to Jack Carey of USA TODAY. Marinatto said the league's member schools have "all made the commitment that they do want us to move forward with the premise that they want to have a vital and strong conference to have their programs housed in.” Marinatto would not identify schools the league “might be targeting.” Carey notes the Big East is “considering changes to its bylaws, including possibly increasing the exit fee schools must pay to leave for another conference.” There have been reports TCU, which is scheduled to join the Big East next year, “could end up in an expanded Big 12 Conference.” But Marinatto yesterday said TCU Chancellor Victor Boschini Jr. is “committed.” Marinatto: “He told us over and over how much he wants this conference to move forward. There was no wavering at all from him” (USA TODAY, 10/3). A source said that the conference “did not issue any invitations Sunday.” The source added that “a number of schools were discussed," including Navy, Army, Air Force, Temple, Central Florida and SMU. All of these schools “except Army and Navy would join the Big East for all sports” (ESPN.com, 10/2). Marinatto said that the presidents “openly discussed specific institutions.” In DC, Gene Wang notes it has been “widely reported that Navy and Air Force are near or at the top of the list.” Keeping BCS bowl eligibility is of “primary concern for the Big East in large part because of the leverage it provides in the next round of negotiations for lucrative television contracts.” Having that assurance, plus “more stringent parameters for leaving, would go a long way toward steadying the Big East and thus make remaining in the conference much more compelling” (WASHINGTON POST, 10/3).
LET'S GET TOGETHER: In Ft. Worth, Jimmy Birch reports Big 12 presidents met yesterday “to discuss issues related to conference realignment, with interim Commissioner Chuck Neinas scheduled to provide an update during today's teleconference with league football coaches.” Missouri's Board of Curators has scheduled a meeting tomorrow, "which could lead to that school exploring an opportunity to join the SEC.” Big 12 presidents were “expected to discuss ways to stabilize the existing league, as well as expansion opportunities, during Sunday's meeting” (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 10/3).