Big East Expansion: Bad News For Pitt And 'Cuse From Big East Officials; Basketball Split To Come?

In light of last weekend's surprising conference realignment in the Big East and ACC, Big East officials held a meeting last night to sort out what is left.  In attendance were presidents and athletic directors from Cincinnati, Uconn, Louisville, Rutgers, South Florida, TCU, and West Virginia.  

These officials wanted to make sure which members were still committed to bettering the Big East as a conference in college athletics.  Good news for the Big East and their football schools: they all still intend to stay with the conference from this point on.  Despite reports of WVU applying to ACC and SEC and Rutgers "talking" with Big Ten representatives, all of the remaining members plan to stay in the Big East as of last night.

With good news for the Big East came some bad news for Pittsburgh and Syracuse, though.

Big East commissioner John Marinatto told CBSSports.com that the members talked about increasing the exit fee from the conference from its current price at $5 million. That likely won't affect Pitt and Syracuse because they let their intentions known previously, but there is a small chance the conference could (ridiculously) try to get those schools to pay the new fee if they are still technically in the conference. The bad news continued when the commissioner added that Pittsburgh and Syracuse would not be able to leave the conference until June 30, 2014 because of Big East by-laws. That, of course, could be nullified if a deal can be reached, but it's still bad news nonetheless.

The law states that any member wanting to leave the conference must give a 27-month notice.  Marinatto says that there is no intention of granting either of the teams an early exit from the Big East.  All of this information was floating around the internet yesterday and was not the most intriguing part of the meeting, in my opinion at least.

With talks about Pitt and Syracuse over, an official from a non-football member of the Big East told reporters that it appeared as if  "some basketball schools are willing to leave."  The athletic directors from these schools (aside from Notre Dame) held a phone conference on Monday morning.  I am suspecting that Villanova is one of the schools that is very willing to leave the conference.

For the last few years, Villanova has been trying to gain entrance into the Big East as a dual-member rather than just basketball.  Their efforts so far have not gained much ground in that battle and the university is surely starting to become annoyed with league officials.  As one of the top basketball programs remaining in the conference, it would be a huge hit to the Big East if Villanova opted to leave also.

Pitt's athletic director and chancellor both have told reporters on multiple occasions that if the Big East did not make some moves to better the conference and make it more stable for the future that they would be looking elsewhere to play their collegiate sports.  It seems as if the Big East had not been taking these comments seriously for some time now and has also been ignoring Villanova's requests as well.

Rutgers president Richard McCormick said that he felt "very good" about the futures of both the league and Rutgers as part of the league.  If the report about some of the basketball schools being willing to leave the conference is true (and my guess is that one of them is Villanova), then maybe not everything is as good as Marinatto and some officials are making the situation in the Big East conference out to be.

Something seems to be rotten in the state of Denmark...

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