Big East commissioner John Marinatto emerged from the three-hour meeting and told reporters that all members of the conference are committed to staying together. But a source with knowledge of the meeting said UConn and Rutgers did not voice that commitment during the meeting.
The source said UConn would cooperate with the Big East in any effort to keep the conference together. But the school has made its interest in the ACC well known. Syracuse and Pittsburgh announced their departure to the ACC Sunday and ACC commissioner John Swofford said the conference presidents are not "philosophically opposed" to adding two more schools and expanding to 16.
Rutgers and UConn are both believed to be interested in those potential openings. But neither school will submit a formal application to the ACC unless acceptance is guaranteed.
UConn President Susan Herbst was not in attendance at the New York meeting. A spokesman for UConn said Herbst could not attend the hastily called meeting because of "a long standing campus commitment." Her chief of staff, Rachel Rubin, and acting athletic director Paul McCarthy represented UConn at the meeting.
Herbst released the following statement Wednesday afternoon:
"The past several days have magnified the period of instability that exists today in the world of college athletics. I want to say thank you to all of our loyal supporters and fans of UConn and our athletic programs for their patience during this time.
"Please know that we will always do what is in the best interests for the University of Connecticut.
"We remain committed to our ideals and principals in intercollegiate athletics and will continue to achieve excellence academically and athletically."
Decisions Tuesday night by the Pac-12 and Oklahoma may have applied the brakes to the realignment scramble – at least for the time being. The Pac-12 said it would not expand to 16 teams, leaving four members of the Big 12 to reconsider their positions. Oklahoma issued a statement that the Sooners would work to keep the Big 12 together by adding at least one member to replace Texas A&M, which is headed to the Southeastern Conference.
The Big East reportedly is targeting the service academies to replace Syracuse and Pitt in the football conference. Navy and Air Force have been mentioned prominently and Army is a possibility. East Carolina is interested in the Big East and would be another option, in addition to Central Florida.
Marinatto told reporters that the conference will enforce its bylaws and not allow Syracuse and Pitt to leave until the 2014-15 academic year. TCU is still expected to join the Big East in 2012, based on the agreement reached previous to this season. Villanova could also be considered for the Big East football league if the Wildcats decide to upgrade to the Football Bowl Subdivision.