Sports

Big East Officials Expected To Discuss League Future Tonight

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Ryan Nassib (Mark Terrill/AP Photo)  Ray Graham(Don Wright/AP Photo)

Ryan Nassib (Mark Terrill/AP Photo) Ray Graham(Don Wright/AP Photo)

By RALPH D. RUSSO,  AP College Football Writer

NEW YORK (AP) _ Big East football school officials will meet
Tuesday night in New York City to discuss the league’s future, and
a Pac-12 official expects conference presidents in that league to
decide by the end of the week if they want to expand again.

The Big East is trying to figure out what’s next now that
Pittsburgh and Syracuse have announced they are leaving for the
Atlantic Coast Conference.

Three people with knowledge of the Big East meeting told The
Associated Press that presidents and athletic directors from the
conference’s six remaining football members, along with officials
from TCU, which is slated to join in 2012, will meet with
Commissioner John Marinatto.

The remaining Big East football schools are West Virginia,
Cincinnati, Connecticut, Rutgers, Louisville and South Florida.

The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were
not authorized to publicly discuss the meeting, which was first
reported by USA Today.

The future of the Big East could be tied to the future of the
Big 12.

Although Syracuse and Pittsburgh know where they’re headed,
Texas and Oklahoma are both trying to decide whether to leave the
Big 12 for the Pac-12, taking Oklahoma State and Texas Tech with
them.

Both universities’ board of regents voted Monday to give their
presidents the right to choose a new conference. And Oklahoma
State’s regents have scheduled a special meeting Wednesday
afternoon about conference realignment.

University of Oklahoma president David Boren has said the two
in-state rivals will remain in the same league whether they decide
to stay in the Big 12 or join the Pac-12.

“Whatever we do, we’re going to do it together, and I think
that’s very good news for the state of Oklahoma,” Boren said.

Should the Oklahoma schools decide to leave– and the Pac-12
agrees to take them– it could be the death knell for the Big 12,
which already lost Nebraska and Colorado last summer and will lose
Texas A&M if the Aggies are able to resolve legal issues that have
their planned move to the Southeastern Conference on hold.

Texas officials have said they’re not interested in remaining in
a Big 12 stripped of those other programs. That would leave only
five schools– Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State and
Missouri– remaining in the league that once had 12 teams.

Officials from those five schools have been in contact with the
remaining Big East members about the possibility of merging to
create one conference.

But the Big East might be facing more defections.

UConn President Susan Herbst said no formal application has been
filed with any conference, and the school has not ruled out staying
in a reconstituted Big East. But she said she’s receiving inquiries
from across the country as the school considers which conference
might make the best fit.

ACC Commissioner John Swofford has said his league is
comfortable with 14 members, which it will have when Pitt and
Syracuse join, but it is not “philosophically” opposed to
expanding to 16.

Adding UConn and possibly Rutgers, located in New Jersey, would
allow the ACC to further extend its reach into the Northeast and
New York City television market.

The Big East, which lost Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech
to the ACC in the early 2000s, requires 27 months’ notice if
members decide to leave for another conference.

Marinatto told The New York Times on Monday night that he plans
to force Pittsburgh and Syracuse to stay in the Big East until the
2014-15 academic year.

With dozens of schools and almost every conference affected by
realignment, rumors, reports and speculation emerge almost daily.

The SEC responded to a report by the Kansas City Star, citing an
unidentified booster, that Missouri was on deck to join the
conference if the Big 12 fell apart.

“The SEC has not extended an invitation to any school beyond
Texas A&M since it extended invitations to Arkansas and South
Carolina,” SEC associate commissioner Charles Bloom said.
____
AP College Football Writer Jeff Latzke in Oklahoma City and
Associated Press Writer Pat Eaton-Robb in Storrs, Conn.,
contributed to this report.
___
Follow Ralph D. Russo at http://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

     (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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