It’s been almost a week exactly since Big East commissioner John Marinatto held a teleconference to inform the media that, essentially, the Big East was still planning to hike up exit fees and expand to 12 teams — two items that were already known to be hand-in-hand with one another.
Marinatto added that moves toward expansion would be made after Big East basketball media days, which took place last week, and it appears we might finally have our first new addition to the Big East. Sam Khan(!!!!!) Jr. of the Houston Chronicle reports that Houston’s Board of Regents will meet Thursday at 4 p.m., and that conference affiliation will be on the agenda. The Associated Press adds that the regents are expected to authorize chancellor Renu Khator to make decisions when it comes to the school’s conference affiliation.
As we’ve seen with the likes of Missouri and Texas A&M, this is pretty standard protocol; sources had previously told Khan(!!!!!) that Houston had at least received back-channel assurance from the Big East last week.
If Houston does leave Conference USA, it would be the first known and official move toward Big East expansion. Whatever timelines for future additions (re: Boise State, Air Force, Navy, UCF, etc) remain unclear. Additionally, Big East presidents have voted unanimously to raise exit fees, but the official bylaw modification won’t be implemented until official moves are made.
Still, the Big East remains on unsteady ground. Rumors have circulated for the past several days that Missouri would announce to the Big 12 today during a Board of Directors meeting in Dallas of the school’s intentions to leave the conference. However, that notice of withdrawal never came.
Missouri could still opt to leave. If they do, reports from Orangebloods.com have stated that Louisville and West Virginia are the two most likely candidates to replace the void left by Missouri, with West Virginia apparently having a slight, slight edge. The biggest possible headache for either school, and the Big 12, could be the 27-month waiting period that Marinatto seems content on upholding. Marinatto has stated that he will hold Pittsburgh and Syracuse to that waiting period before they depart for the ACC.
How the departure of either WVU or Louisville, assuming there is a departure, would affect Big East expansion is unclear. New Cincinnati athletic director Whit Babcock has said trust and stability is key for Big East survival, but “right now, I don’t know that the Big East has either.”