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Herbst Thrilled By Big East’s Westward Expansion

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HOUSTON - DECEMBER 03:  Quarterback Austin Davis (C), Dominique Sullivan (L) and Lamar Holmes #72 celebrate after defeating the Houston Cougars at Robertson Stadium on December 3, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

HOUSTON – DECEMBER 03: Quarterback Austin Davis (C), Dominique Sullivan (L) and Lamar Holmes #72 celebrate after defeating the Houston Cougars at Robertson Stadium on December 3, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

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By PAT EATON-ROBB
Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ University of Connecticut President Susan
Herbst says the school is thrilled with the westward expansion of
the Big East and is not in discussions about joining another
conference.

In a statement Wednesday, Herbst said Connecticut welcomes the
five schools that were introduced Wednesday as new members of the
conference. Central Florida, Houston and Southern Methodist are
joining as full members. Boise State and San Diego State will
become members for football.

Herbst said the geographic diversity of the conference is not a
major issue for Connecticut.

“We welcome it, in fact, and will work on our schedules to
minimize travel costs and ensure success for Husky fans and our
school,” she said. “Since UConn is an international university,
we see the geographic expansion of the Big East as a way to
showcase our academic excellence in an even more sustained way _
far and wide. We look forward to Husky teams playing in different
parts of the country, exposing our student-athletes to new regions
and new experiences and to broadening our fan base.”

Herbst expanded on her statement in response to an email from
The Associated Press which asked if Connecticut is still talking to
other conferences or had committed to stay in the Big East.

“UConn is not in discussion with any other athletic conference
officials at this time,” she said. “We have not, in my time at
the Big East, discussed any time commitments for institutions.”

Men’s basketball coach Jim Calhoun told reporters Wednesday that
it was clear the conference needed to add football programs with
“quality teams that show they can get into bowls.” But, Calhoun
said he also would like to see one or two more major basketball
schools join _ including Temple.

“In basketball, I don’t think we’ll truly replace West
Virginia, Pittsburgh and Syracuse,” he said. “But Houston has a
chance and a few of those other schools have a chance to be pretty
good.”

Connecticut football coach Paul Pasqualoni had previously voiced
his support for adding western schools to the Big East, especially
in recruiting rich Texas, where he served as an assistant coach for
the Dallas Cowboys.

On Wednesday, he issued a statement expressing excitement over
about the league’s new football members.

“All of them have enjoyed national prominence in recent years
in terms of national rankings and bowl game appearances,” he said.
“They also add and reinforce geographical areas that we consider
key in recruiting.”

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

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