Big East Votes To Expand – Taking another step in a wholesale league makeover, Big East school presidents, meet Tuesday in Philadelphia, and voted to expand invitations to Boise State, Navy and Air Force for football-only, and Central Florida, Houston and SMU for all sports to broaden their conference.
There was no invitation extended to Temple yet. The Owls remain in some kind of purgatory, still in backup status.
While commissioner John Marinatto, talking Tuesday afternoon about the votes at the Philadelphia Airport Marriott after the league’s regularly scheduled fall meeting, expressed confidence that all the schools would accept few steps of this multi-conference realignment process have gone forward without hiccups.
If Navy or Air Force decline, for instance, Temple could be invited as a football-only replacement.
Temple had been a football-only member before 2004, but was voted out after failing to attract enough consistent fan support.
Asked if the league would extend invitations if it didn’t have pretty strong assurances they would be accepted, Marinatto indicated that was the case. But he also added, “As we’ve learned over these past two months, don’t believe anything anybody tells you. Nothing’s done until it’s over. So I’m obviously being very cautious, and that’s why I’m reluctant to say names of schools. Nothing is ever over until it’s over.”
CBSsports.com reported that following Tuesday’s meeting and votes, representatives from Boise State, Houston, SMU and Central Florida and Navy held a conference call. All four schools other than Navy are “100 percent” on board in joining together, CBSsports.com reported, with the only possible hang-up being Boise State finding a conference home for its Olympic sports. The report said Navy told the other schools on Tuesday’s call it “is definitely in” and Air Force is expected to join once Navy commits, a source said.
Marinatto said Big East presidents did not discuss a replacement for West Virginia, which announced Friday it is leaving for the Big 12. Temple joins a list of possible replacements that includes Brigham Young, Memphis and East Carolina.
Currently, the Big East represents the majority of the large, athletically competitive private Catholic schools, with schools like Boston College, Gonzaga, and Xavier being notable exceptions. Public schools UConn, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Rutgers, South Florida, West Virginia and Cincinnati are located in areas with large Catholic communities. Five of the founding seven schools are Catholic schools: Providence, St. John’s, Georgetown, Seton Hall, and Boston College.