Report: Big East members unanimously vote to raise exit fees

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On the same day — and within a few hours — of a New York Times report that Missouri’s SEC application is “imminent and inevitable“, the Big East has reportedly taken a big step in trying to secure their own future in addition to maintain their status as a BCS member.

According to CBS Sports’ Brett McMurphy, the Big East has indeed voted up exit fees from $5 million to $10 million. The vote was reportedly unanimous.

Big East presidents and chancellors were set to have a meeting Friday to raise exit fees, that according to the Sporting News. Instead, the conference supposedly decided to send invitations of membership to Boise State, Air Force, Navy and UCF; Temple, Houston and SMU were also considered.

But a mixed set or reports over the weekend about exactly which schools the Big East was eyeing combined with reports of feelings of reservation from Navy and Boise State led to one big question mark for the conference. Friday night, the Mountain West and Conference USA announced an alliance between the two conferences in football, leading to speculation as to whether some programs like Boise State would actually bolt for the Big East.

Big East bylaws state, however, that the conference must wait 72 hours after agreeing to send invites before they can officially be sent. That would mean those invites should have come today, Monday, but word spread earlier that Big East basketball media day could delay that process.

At any rate of invitation, it was believed that schools like Boise State and Navy wanted to see the Big East invest a greater amount into the financial security of the conference before accepting an invite. Now that the Big East has a set amount vote upon unanimously, there could be less hesitation from either institution about joining.

An official teleconference held by Big East commissioner John Marinatto is set for tomorrow to discuss conference matters. Reports are already surfacing that Houston has received an invite from the Big East.

For Louisville and West Virginia, the two schools reportedly on very short list in the even of further Big 12 expansion, the decision to vote for raised exit fees shows their commitment to rebuilding the conference, not necessarily their commitment to the conference. If the Big 12 comes calling, even $10 million in exit fees might not be enough to keep either of them around. Other programs have left much better situations for roughly the same amount.

Minnesota gives Fleck 1-year extension, plus raise

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MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota football coach P.J. Fleck had his contract extended Wednesday by an additional year with a $1 million raise in annual salary, after the latest round of big spending by Big Ten rivals.

The new seven-year deal will run through the 2029 season, the university announced without releasing terms. Fleck will now make $6 million per year, a person with knowledge of the contract confirmed. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been finalized.

Last week, Nebraska hired Matt Rhule and Wisconsin hired Luke Fickell to put them in the top tier of head coach compensation in the conference. In terms of average annual value, the 42-year-old Fleck is eighth in the Big Ten behind Michigan State’s Mel Tucker, Ohio State’s Ryan Day, Rhule, Fickell, Penn State’s James Franklin, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh and Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz. All seven of those coaches make $7 million or more per season.

The Gophers (8-4) play Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 29. They’re 3-0 in bowl games under Fleck, who was hired away from Western Michigan in 2017.

Minnesota tied for second place in the Big Ten West Division this year, behind Purdue. Fleck is 43-27 overall with the Gophers, including 26-26 in conference play. They’re 0-6 against Iowa and 3-3 against Wisconsin, their primary rivals.

Fleck’s winning percentage is third-best in program history among coaches with 45 games or more, behind Henry Williams (1900-21) and Bernie Bierman (1932-41).

“What P.J. and his staff have done in a short amount of time is remarkable,” athletic director Mark Coyle said in a statement distributed by the university. “He has recruited and developed some of the best student-athletes to ever play at Minnesota and his team continues to excel academically, athletically and socially.”

This is the fifth time in six years on the job that Fleck’s deal has been adjusted to keep up with the competition, as power conference coach contracts these days rarely have less than five years on them at any time. Minnesota extended his deal a year ago, too.

In that iteration of his contract, the termination fees Fleck would owe Minnesota if he were to hop to another program were bumped way up. Those numbers landed at $7 million in 2023, $5 million in 2024, $4 million in 2025 and $3 million in 2026. Details about those figures in the new deal were not immediately available.

Virginia players granted extra year of eligibility

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The NCAA has granted an extra year of eligibility to Virginia players whose eligibility has expired in the aftermath of the slaying of three members of the team, the school confirmed.

Lavel Davis Jr., D’Sean Perry and Devin Chandler were killed last month as they returned to campus from a field trip to see a play in Washington, D.C. A former player at the school, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., is facing three counts of second-degree murder and other charges in the shooting. A fourth player, Mike Hollins, and student Marlee Morgan were injured in the shooting.

Virginia canceled its final two games of the season after the shooting, and the team and university community memorialized the victims in a nearly two-hour service on campus. Team members also traveled to each of the three funerals held for their teammates.