Blog Entry

Big East will be aggressive in expansion

Posted on: September 21, 2011 12:33 am

Before the Big East’s meeting of the league’s presidents and athletic directors in the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York, someone noticed a familiar face in the hotel: Henry Kissinger.

“Someone joked, he should come up here,” Big East commissioner John Marinatto told

However, the former Secretary of State wasn’t needed on Tuesday night – three days after the sudden announcement that Pittsburgh and Syracuse would depart the Big East –when the presidents and athletic directors of the seven remaining Big East football-playing schools gathered.

The league “will be aggressive” in replacing Pittsburgh and Syracuse and the Big East will continue talks with Navy and Air Force as football-only members, an official in the meeting told On Tuesday, reported that Big East was in the final stages of adding Navy as a football-only member before Pitt and Syracuse abruptly left for the ACC. Air Force also was expected to come on board.

Marinatto would not discuss specific expansion candidates, but said “there’s no urgency to expand. We don’t need to make a quick decision. We need to make the right decision.”

Another official that attended the meeting said the league’s members made a commitment to work and stay together.

“It went well,” the official said. “I think those schools that thought they were going somewhere now realize they have no where to go.”

There have been multiple reports than UConn and Rutgers are interested in the ACC. The Newark-Star Ledger also reported Rutgers “had discussions” with the Big Ten. West Virginia also hoped to go to the ACC or SEC, but both leagues indicated they were not interested in the Mountaineers, reported.

“Part of the purpose of the meeting was getting everyone’s commitment,” Marinatto said. “At some point, you have to take people at their word.”

The presidents and athletic directors from Cincinnati, UConn, Louisville, Rutgers, South Florida, TCU and West Virginia attended the meeting. Marinatto said the membership discussed increasing the withdrawal fee from $5 million.

“I don’t know if there’s a price you can put on for breaking your word and lying,” Marinatto said. “That’s priceless. I don’t know high enough of a figure to charge for being disloyal or untruthful.”

Marinatto also reiterated that the league plans to make Pitt and Syracuse honor the league’s by-laws, which require 27-month notice to withdraw from the league.

“They are with us until June 30, 2014,” Marinatto said. “I think our membership is firm on that. There is no intention of granting [an early] release.”

Marinatto said he was “hurt and disappointed” about Pitt and Syracuse’s decision to leave the league, especially since both schools kept their dealings with the ACC secret until announcing their departure.

“I don’t want to use words that go over the edge,” Marinatto said. “Let’s just say I was very disappointed.”

Representatives from the Big East’s non-football member schools – DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Notre Dame, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Villanova – were not in attendance. The athletic directors of those schools, with exception of Notre Dame, held a one-hour conference call on Monday morning.

“Everyone was frustrated with the way it [Pitt and Syracuse] went down and the fact no one had any idea Syracuse and Pitt were bailing,” said an official from a Big East’s non-football member school.

That individual added that it appears some of the “basketball schools are willing to leave.”

Marinatto, however, said that he held a conference call with the presidents of the non-football members on Monday.

“I went around the horn and asked each one if they were in support of keeping the conference together,” Marinatto said. “Unanimously they said they support what the football schools want us to do.”

Following the football-member schools meeting, the Big East issued a statement:

“Our membership met this evening and we are committed as a conference to recruit top level BCS caliber institutions with strong athletic and academic histories and traditions. We have been approached by a number of such institutions and will pursue all of our options to make the Big East Conference stronger than it has ever been in both basketball and football.”

Rutgers president Richard McCormick would not comment to the Newark-Star Ledger Tuesday night, but said he felt “very good” about the league’s future. “Certainly from our standpoint.”

The president’s next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 2.


Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 19, 2011 3:27 am

Big East will be aggressive in expansion

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Since: Oct 6, 2011
Posted on: October 6, 2011 1:25 pm

Big East will be aggressive in expansion

Well, I guess they'd better pick up the pace on this before they cease to exist.  Since announcing their grandiose expansion plans, they've lost another member (TCU).  I think maybe some of the University presidents may need to tell Marinatto what the term "expansion" means.

Since: Aug 13, 2011
Posted on: September 26, 2011 7:22 pm

Big East will be aggressive in expansion

Football only? Does anyone out there know if there has ever been a school where their different sports teams have been in two or more different conferences at the same time? Now that would be interesting!

Since: Sep 18, 2008
Posted on: September 26, 2011 1:54 pm

Big East will be aggressive in expansion

Actually Pitt's chancellor had been the one to lean on the other BE members to stay put & that the BE needs to stay together. Pitt wasn't notifying anyone about "actively seeking their options." What kind of propaganda is that? It was Pitt chancellor Nordenberg who discouraged Louisville from talking with the Big XII for example. Swofford isn't the only villain here.

Since: Jul 21, 2011
Posted on: September 25, 2011 7:39 pm

Big East will be aggressive in expansion

The Big East Needs to Go after Kansas!! They are a POWERHOUSE of a Basketball team that would fit in Perfectly with the BIG East! Culturally and socially they are a perfect match. Academically they  Match up with anyone in the Nation!  Kansas would help bring in the Stability the Big East needs! The Big East gives Kansas something they desperately needs a stable conference where their Basketball can Be King and Show itself off to the Nation as on the Best of all time in College! The Big East Media and Population Center will give Kansas a Showcase to play in and win!!!

Since: Sep 15, 2006
Posted on: September 24, 2011 11:44 am

The 12-20 Big East Survival Plan

This what the Big East needs to do:
Add Temple, UMass, UCF, Houston & Memphis. Read my works!

Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: September 22, 2011 12:37 pm

Big East will be aggressive in expansion

Does Tennesse still have a football program?  I thought they just had a good women's basketball team?  Huh. Learn something new everyday.  BTW - where's Pearl?

Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: September 22, 2011 12:28 pm

Big East will be aggressive in expansion

Agreed - I've thought all along this would make this most sense.  But then again, when do University Presidents and AD's do anything that makes sense.

Since: Sep 22, 2011
Posted on: September 22, 2011 12:21 pm

Big East will be aggressive in expansion

The only interest I can see in adding Air Force would be as sort of an armed forces package deal, but then again they should be pursuing Army if they really want that to happen.  I concur that ECU makes far more sense, the school endowment is about 4 times the size of air force, geographically it is right there in Big East/ACC territory, versus Air Force which would make for a travel expense nightmare.  Also to me it seems dumb that Air Force would want to go through the hassle of having two conferences for all their sports, keep in mind that the military schools are only wanted for football.  This means that unless the MWC wants to keep Air Force for the other sports (not very likely) they would have to find a new non-football conference to join.  The only school that will be doing that in the near future will be Hawaii, joining the MWC for football only and the WCC for all other sports.  One of their big reasons for doing this was due to increased travel costs in the WAC with the addition of two Texas schools (and the one in Louisiana).  The point is that I could see Air Force looking at it and saying the same thing. 

Since: Nov 22, 2010
Posted on: September 22, 2011 12:06 pm

Big East will be aggressive in expansion

Air Force? Navy?.  Why not?  I'm surprised Navy would even consider the Big East.  They are actually a better fit with the ACC.  Academically, no one in the Big East is even close, and besides football they do well in the Olympic sports.  Basketball is a negative for them in the ACC, but that would also be the case in the Big East. Navy and West Virginia to the ACC, with any remaining football schools in the Big East going to C-USA or Big-12 (if they ever get their act together). Of course, Air Force is another story.  Big East makes zero sense for them.

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