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Big East Leadership Meets, Approves Expansion, Considering Bylaw Changes

The meeting of member presidents and the Big East Conference leadership at Georgetown is over. Commissioner John Marinatto released a short statement.

"The presidents voted unanimously to authorize the commissioner to aggressively pursue discussions with a select number of institutions that have indicated a strong interest in joining the Big East Conference. The presidents are also actively considering changes to the conference's governing bylaws to further solidify the membership."

What does this statement mean? In the short term, it almost certainly means Marinatto has been approved to approach Navy and Air Force about joining the Big East as football only members. Marinatto also added that TCU is fully committed to the Big East and so next year's conference will at least include the Horned Frogs. Whether or not Pittsburgh and Syracuse will be able to negotiate their way out of the 27 month waiting period or any new members could be added for the 2012 season is still unclear. 

The language about changing the bylaws to solidify membership simply means there are now discussions about increasing the exit fees, like the ACC did, to give the members some sense of stability. Efforts to increase the exit fee will tell fans all they need to know about just how serious the members are about staying in the Big East. No member will vote to increase it if they feel they have an opportunity or obligation to leave the Big East. If the members do somehow agree to increase the exit fee, fans can rest assured that the conference will find a way to survive and no additional losses should be expect in the short term. The biggest lingering question: what will the Big XII's response be should Missouri bolt for the SEC? If Missouri stays, the Big East might not lose any additional members and could somehow come out of this with a better football conference.