NEW YORK — Connecticut women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma believes the Big East's realignment issues could have been solved years ago with one simple move — Notre Dame's football team joining the league.
"They've been in our league 17 years," Auriemma said during the Big East women's basketball media day Thursday. "So how long are we going to date before we just decide this ain't working?"
The Irish have played in the Big East in all sports except football, for which it remains an independent, since 1995.
Last month, Syracuse and Pittsburgh announced they were leaving the Big East for the ACC. The conference reportedly plans to add Navy, Air Force and Boise State as football-only members and Central Florida, Houston and SMU for all sports.
"If Notre Dame had come in as a football and basketball school when they came in, we wouldn't have a problem," Auriemma said. "Miami wouldn't have left. Virginia Tech wouldn't have left. Boston College wouldn't have left. We probably wouldn't have any of these issues, would we?"
Notre Dame declined to comment.
"We've got one school that holds the future of our league in the palm of their hand, and they're not really that concerned about it," Auriemma said.
"But if you know that you have the ability to put a whole bunch of schools at ease and have the Catholic mentality of, 'We're here to serve and help. … ' "
More realignment: Michigan's John Conyers, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, urged the panel to hold hearings on antitrust, realignment and other issues. The committee said it is reviewing Conyers' request. Meanwhile, the board of curators at Missouri, reportedly on its way to the SEC, began its monthly meeting in Kansas City, Mo. But the school said it wouldn't comment until today.
The Mountain West proposed a 16-team playoff it said would generate $650 million, CBSsports.com reported. The current BCS contract expires after the 2014 season, so a playoff would not start until afterward.
Under it, a committee similar to the one that determines the field for the basketball tournament would seed 16 teams. Each champ from the current BCS conferences would get a berth with no conference getting more than three. The first round and semifinals would be played on campus, the quarterfinals at the Rose, Sugar, Orange and Fiesta bowls and the final at a site to be determined.
The conference commissioners were set to discuss the proposal during a meeting Sept. 20. But realignment issues forced it to be canceled, and a new one hasn't been scheduled.
Bowls: An NCAA task force recommended stronger academic standards for teams to be eligible. It proposed a ban on teams that don't reach 930 — out of 1,000 — on the Academic Progress Rate. The task force also recommended all bowls be played during a three-week window to fall in line with the academic calendar. The Division I Board of Directors will start considering the measures Oct. 27.
Mass suspensions: The Southwestern Athletic Conference suspended 41 players for Saturday's postgame fight between Southern and Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Most were for one game, but eight will miss two.
LSU: The suspensions of corners Tyrann Mathieu and Tharold Simon and tailback Spencer Ware were the result of a positive test for synthetic marijuana, ESPN.com reported. Coach Les Miles declined to say why the three were suspended Wednesday.
Michigan St.: The Big Ten suspended defensive end William Gholston for Saturday's game against Wisconsin for twisting the helmet of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson during a pileup and later taking a swing at a Michigan player.
Ohio St.: Interim coach Luke Fickell is making $775,000 this season, according to the contract the school released. It expires Jan. 31 with no guarantee of renewal.
UAB 26, UCF 24: Ty Long's 40-yard field goal with 21 seconds left lifted the host Blazers. The Knights (3-4, 1-2 C-USA) have lost four of five. Blake Bortles replaced an ineffective Jeff Godfrey at quarterback in the fourth for UCF and led two scoring drives to give it a 24-23 lead. But UAB (1-6, 1-3) took over at its 16 with 4:57 left and converted two third and longs.
Basketball: Knight, son possibly in trouble
BEAUMONT, Texas — Lamar is looking into if new coach Pat Knight violated an NCAA rule by allowing two recruits to speak with his father, former Indiana coach Bob Knight.
The Indianapolis Star reported Pat Knight called his father then handed the phone to the recruits, both from Indiana. NCAA rules say calls to prospects can be made only by the coaching staff or designated exceptions, which generally include the school's president or chancellor, academic advisers and compliance officers.
Heels 1, Gators 10: North Carolina is No. 1 in the preseason coaches' poll while Florida is No. 10. The Tar Heels, who have four players among the 50 on the Wooden Award preseason list, received 30 of 31 first-place votes. Kentucky received the other. Florida's ranking is its highest in the preseason since No. 1 entering 2006-07. Florida State was among those receiving votes (poll, 2C).
Women: Notre Dame was picked to win the Big East in a vote by conference coaches. It's the first time Connecticut wasn't picked since 2002, though it was picked second and has the preseason player of the year in freshman forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis. USF was picked 10th in the 16-team league.