The Big East has "reached out" to Fresno State Univ. and UNLV to join the conference, according to a source cited by Dennis Dodd of CBSSPORTS.com. BYU and Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco also have “at least had informal conversations.” Aresco is “aggressively trying to assemble a group of football-playing schools to keep under the Big East banner.” But the problem is “uncertainty on all fronts.” The Big East “doesn't know how -- or even if -- it will proceed in football.” Meanwhile, the 10-team Mountain West Conference “hasn't made a move to expand because of its uncertainty in its TV contract with CBS” (CBSSPORTS.com, 12/19). In Las Vegas, Mark Anderson reports UNLV AD Jim Livengood “acknowledged speaking with Big East Conference ADs about possibly joining the league in football." But Livengood said, "There's nothing more than that." He said yesterday said that his discussions with ADs from the Big East and elsewhere “occurred because of longtime friendships,” adding that that he "has not spoken to" Aresco. Anderson notes Livengood “has been critical of the decisions by Boise State and San Diego State to take their football programs to the Big East next year while sending their other sports to separate leagues” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 12/20).
FROM THE DESK OF THE COMMISH: In DC, Liz Clarke reports Aresco in a Q&A yesterday “voiced confidence the Big East will remain a viable league, partly by expanding west of the Mississippi.” Aresco said of further Big East expansion, “We certainly have room, as a 13-team league with Navy coming in 2014, to add a 14th team. My guess is we’d look west. There are western schools that have asked to join us. I don’t know if we would be a 14- or 16-team conference. Our goal is to hold together.” Aresco said of possibly changing the conference name, “Obviously the Big East name is important. Obviously the basketball group would want to form its own conference and keep an automatic qualifying for the NCAA tournament; our group obviously wants to do the same. We’ll have to see where the name fits in with that.” He said of the possibility the seven departing schools could leave in June '14, one year earlier than Big East rules allow, “After the 2014 season, if teams did want to leave early, our group would at least entertain that at some point. Both groups might feel it benefits them; or it might not” (WASHINGTON POST, 12/20).
BE TRUE TO YOUR SCHOOL: UConn President Susan Herbst yesterday posted to the school's official athletics website a letter to fans and supporters on the topic of conference realignment. The letter read in part, “There is more change to come that will reshape the landscape yet again. I assure you that the Big East presidents are both unified and optimistic, working to strengthen the conference in imaginative ways that will see us through to a bright future for our students, coaches, and fans. Commissioner Mike Aresco is an outstanding leader at an extraordinarily complex time, and our university partners represent powerful, high-quality institutions that we are proud to join with in this conference” (UConn). In Chicago, Rick Morrissey writes the new conference represents an opportunity for DePaul to "reclaim their identity." There is “a chance the new conference will become just another league.” But travel “will be easier, expenses should be lower and the new conference figures to get a good TV contract.” Recruiting “should be more concentrated, another positive" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 12/20).