Big East Conference Expands, Questions Remain - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Big East Conference Expands, Questions Remain

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WICHITA, Kan. -

The Big East is heading west in a bold and creative move to expand its reach across the entire nation.

On Wednesday, the conference held a teleconference to announce that it would be adding five institutions to its roster with only one that resides in the Eastern Time zone.

San Diego State and Boise State will compete in football only, while Central Florida, Southern Methodist and Houston will be full members beginning in 2013.

Throughout the call, the words "bold" and "creative" were used time and time again to describe the manner in which the conference has moved forward to begin rebuilding following the pending departures of West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Syracuse.

"They provide us with the solid foundation we require to move forward confidently and boldly with our conference," Commissioner John Marinatto said. "We have ambitious plans and this expansion is a great stride toward reaching them."

Marinatto made a big push to highlight the media markets that now lay within the Big East's reach.

"Four different time zones will also allow us the potential to schedule four football games on a given Saturday back-to-back-to-back-to-back without any overlap," he says. "It's a powerful model and one that we believe will be unmatched by any other conference."

The conference clearly was thrown for a loop and left scouring smaller schools in non-automatic qualifier leagues to find adequate programs to fill voids. A similar search was done when Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College left for the ACC.

Despite the addition of five new schools, there is no indication that the Big East is willing to allow WVU, Pitt and Syracuse to leave the conference prior to 2014 as is required under the bylaws.

"The additions that we're making today have no impact whatsoever in regard to our commitment and our belief that the schools that are leaving would fulfill the 27-month requirement clause that's currently in our bylaws," says Marinatto. "Bylaws are bylaws are bylaws."

West Virginia and the Big East continue to fight a legal battle as WVU tries to leave for the Big 12 in time for next season. Meanwhile, Syracuse athletic director Daryl Gross said Wednesday that the Orange intend to adhere to the bylaws, but believe that the current expansion may allow for a change and an early departure.

There are a number of issues that remain unresolved in this entire situation.

Marinatto says the conference intends to move toward a 12-team lineup, but at this point are satisfied with the 10-team model. In two five team divisions, one eastern team would have to play in the west, but Marinatto says the conference has not yet looked into the details regarding which team would be doing the heavy traveling.

The 12 athletic directors and presidents would talk to discuss which teams are in each division.

There's also the potential that in 2013 there will 13 teams playing in the conference if, by some unlikely chance, WVU, Pitt and Syracuse are all still in the Big East. Marinatto says they have not yet explored the logistics of such a conference.

In a college football world where conference names seem to have less and less relevance to the league they describe, Marinatto says the Big East does not plan on changing its name.

"We have not contemplated changing the name of the Big East Conference," says Marinatto. "As I've said in the past, there's a conference called the Big 10 can have 12 schools, then the Big East can certainly have schools that are not necessarily in the east."

In regards to the Big East Championship game, there's another vote to be had. The two likeliest scenarios appear to be either playing it at the top team's home stadium or taking the game to New York City to be played at Yankees Stadium.

While all this was taking place, WVU athletic director Oliver Luck was reaffirming his stance that the Mountaineers would begin playing in the Big 12 in 2012 at the Sports Business Journal Intercollegiate Athletic Forum.

It may be a big day for the Big East, but West Virginia's involvement in any future plans remains uncertain.

To hear the full audio of the Big East teleconference CLICK HERE.

To read the full transcript of the Big East teleconference CLICK HERE.

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