Big East : Conference ups exit fee, aims to solidify future with expansion plan

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first_img Published on October 18, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Ryne: [email protected] Comments Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Big East Commissioner John Marinatto said Tuesday afternoon that the conference has taken a ‘significant step forward’ in its conference realignment plan. The 14 current members — which doesn’t include Syracuse or Pittsburgh — voted unanimously to double its exit fee for football schools to $10 million on Monday night, Marinatto said in the teleconference.The increased exit fee will take effect immediately after one school commits to join the Big East. Marinatto did not go into specifics or identify any of the schools that the conference has contacted, but reiterated the goal of creating a 12-team football league. The conference has not sent out invitations to targeted schools, he said.Marinatto said the conference hopes to resolve the situation ‘the sooner, the better,’ but that there is no timetable to begin inviting schools.‘Stay tuned. We’re working diligently. I can tell you this: We’re not going to rush ourselves to meet anyone’s deadline,’ Marinatto said in the teleconference. ‘We have a lot to offer, and we’re going to get this done right.’Marinatto said the increased exit fee is a sign of stability within the membership of the Big East. That stability is important for prospective schools to make a commitment to join the Big East in the future. Air Force, Boise State, Central Florida, Houston, Southern Methodist and Navy have all been reported as the primary targets for expansion. Air Force, Boise State and Navy would be football-only members.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe conference has been filled with uncertainty after Syracuse and Pittsburgh left for the Atlantic Coast Conference on Sept. 18, and Texas Christian chose to join the Big 12 conference rather than the Big East on Oct. 10. The Big East will be down to six football-playing members after the departures.All three schools must pay a $5 million exit fee required by Big East bylaws before the increase to $10 million was announced Tuesday. Syracuse and Pittsburgh must wait until the 2014 season to begin play in the ACC due to a 27-month waiting period required by the Big East, while TCU will move to the Big 12 on July 1, 2012.Marinatto said Syracuse and Pittsburgh won’t be released from that waiting period, regardless of whether the conference adds six more members for 2012 or 2013. The Big East would play as a 14-team football league in that case.The commissioner said that all 14 remaining Big East members are excited about and endorsed the 12-football team model. He said he feels the conference is dealing with all of its members in ‘good faith.’Despite the optimism following the announcement, Marinatto also understands more challenges lie ahead for the Big East. According to The New York Times, Missouri’s decision to apply for membership in the Southeastern Conference is ‘inevitable and imminent.’ The report indicated that Missouri officials expect to get the required votes from SEC presidents to join the conference. ESPN then reported Big East members Louisville and West Virginia would be among the top candidates to replace Missouri in the Big 12.‘I recognize fully that the realignment picture’s very unsettled right now,’ Marinatto said in the teleconference. ‘We’re prepared to play to our strengths, and we’re prepared to respond to whatever challenges we face on the membership side.’Marinatto said he remains confident in the Big East’s future partly because it is a Bowl Championship Series automatic-qualifying conference. Marinatto said the conference has an automatic bid to the BCS through the 2013 season. He added that the Big East is committed to meeting the standards to maintain that status beyond 2013.To do that, the conference must have eight members. The goal of 12 would meet that requirement, but with only six members set for the future, that status is still up in the air.Marinatto said the conference hasn’t discussed dissolving if its membership falls below the six schools. He reiterated that the current conference members are excited about the plan for the future and that the plan is ‘very creative to allow further flexibility moving down the road.’‘We’re positioned well, and if something happens and we have to adjust, we’ll adjust accordingly,’ Marinatto said in the teleconference. ‘But we’ve got the core nucleus in order to create something very special right now.’[email protected]last_img

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