NEW YORK (AP) _ Big East schools gave a go-ahead Monday for the
conference to expand to as many as 12 teams for football, a move
that could involve adding six members.

The schools’ presidents and chancellors gave approval for the
league to talk with outside schools. The Big East said in a
statement that it’s “considering moving to a model that includes
12 football playing schools.”

The Big East has been ravaged in the ongoing conference
shuffles, losing longtime members. The move on Monday is the Big
East’s first formal attempt to make up for its losses.

Syracuse and Pittsburgh started the recent exodus by deciding to
leave for the Atlantic Coast Conference. The governor of
Connecticut has said UConn also is interested in the ACC, and there
has been speculation that Rutgers, too, could leave the Big East.

The league thought it had strengthened its football status by
adding Texas Christian. But TCU reversed course and accepted an
invitation to join the Big 12 on Monday. TCU will have to pay the
Big East a $5 million fee to leave without ever playing a league

“Although never having competed as a member of the Big East
Conference, we are disappointed with the news that TCU is joining
the Big 12,” Big East Commissioner John Marinatto said.

Marinatto noted that the school presidents approved expanding
the conference earlier Monday in a teleconference.

“We anticipate taking action in the near future,” he said.

Without TCU, the Big East would be down to six football schools:
West Virginia, Louisville, Cincinnati, South Florida, Rutgers and
Connecticut. The league also includes DePaul, Marquette, St.
John’s, Seton Hall, Villanova, Georgetown, Providence and Notre
Dame for sports other than football.

East Carolina has applied for membership to the Big East.
Conference USA members Central Florida and Memphis also have been
looking to join a conference with an automatic bid in the Bowl
Championship Series.

Former Notre Dame head coach Ara Parseghian said over the
weekend that Notre Dame could be forced to join a conference for
football if the move toward a few super conferences continues.

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