Big East will add two teams to league

Central Florida is likely front-runner

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The Big East Conference announced Tuesday it will add two members to give its football league 10 teams.

The announcement came in Philadelphia after the league's school presidents voted unanimously on the matter at a board of directors meeting.

Big East commissioner John Marinatto declined to comment on the matter but did issue a statement which read "Today our board of directors affirmed a set of key strategic initiatives, including expansion, designed to enhance membership stability and maximize our value."

Marinatto said the conference will refrain from commenting on the expansion process until it is complete.

To that end both Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson and West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck declined comment and "deferred all questions regarding expansion to the league office."

According to some sources, Central Florida is at or near the top of the list of possible candidates and likely will be involved in the finished product.

The two other early leaders are Villanova, which already is a conference member but plays football at the Division I-AA level, and TCU, which has had some preliminary discussions with the conference.

The logistics of this expansion will be tricky because its basketball league has 16 members.

That means to add two football programs, the conference either must go to 18 teams (or 17 if Villanova is one of the two football teams added) -- which nobody seems to want-- or eliminate one or two basketball members. That does not seem to be desirable, either.

A third, but likely unrealistic, option would add two football-only members.

Two other schools at least in the discussion for expansion are Temple, which used to be a football-only member but was kicked out after years of poor performance and attendance, and Houston, which would serve as a geographic rival for TCU and would put the conference in another large market.

Paul Zeise: or 412-263-1720.


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