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Big East football seeking show of league stability



As the Big East's future as a football conference hangs in the balance, the league's presidents have a difficult challenge in front of them: Until they can show the remaining six football schools are committed to staying in the conference, they likely don't have the stability to secure quality additions to their lineup.


How do the football schools show that commitment? Words won't suffice, as TCU had attended Big East meetings just days before news broke Thursday that the Horned Frogs are now expected to join the Big 12 instead of the Big East as scheduled. The most effective signal of a commitment would be voting to substantially raise the exit fee from its current level of $5 million, something TCU was willing to pay without ever entering the league. In the absence of a higher exit fee, the Big East could follow the Big 12's model, with schools agreeing to a long-term grant of TV rights, meaning the Big East would control a school's TV revenues even if it left the conference, another major deterrent.

Until that happens, potential additions will be wary of committing to a league that may or may not have its current lineup by the time new schools have joined. Any additional losses would put the Big East's status as a BCS automatic qualifying league in serious jeopardy, and one of the major draws for a school like Central Florida, Temple or Houston to join the Big East was the chance to play in an AQ conference.

There is a new sense of urgency for the league, as each subtraction makes even an offsetting addition more difficult because of the instability that has been created. The Big East can now add two all-sports members without its basketball lineup swelling beyond the current 16 teams, and it's reasonable the conference could add two football-only members (Navy, Air Force) to better insulate itself from future defections.

Until such a commitment to the league's future is finalized, the six football schools are in limbo, having to jockey for any possible opening in other BCS conferences while still trying to keep its current conference home afloat.

[Last modified: Friday, October 7, 2011 12:17pm]


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