Big East Finalizing Expansion

After weeks of silence, it appears the Big East is closing in on a plan to expand that would initially include five new schools - led by Boise State.

Several media outlets are reporting the story that an announcement could be made Wednesday. Tom Luicci of the Newark Star-Ledger was first to report the news. Here is his story from NJ.com:

The Big East is close enough now to adding Boise State and San Diego State as football members only and SMU, Houston and Central Florida for all sports that an official announcement could come as soon as Wednesday, a leading college official said.

The person requested anonymity because the Big East is putting the finishing touches on the expansion details.

The impending announcement was first reported in The Star-Ledger today and on NJ.com, its real-time news website, on Monday night, after league administrators met with the Big East's five remaining football athletic directors -- representing Rutgers, Louisville, South Florida, Cincinnati and Connecticut -- in New York City on Monday.

The goal is to get those schools added in time for the 2013 season, with Air Force and Navy expected to join later.

The Big East is looking to rebuild after Syracuse and Pittsburgh announced they were leaving for the ACC, a move that cannot become effective until after the 2013 season under league bylaws.

In addition, West Virginia has accepted an invitation to join the Big 12, although the timetable for doing so is an issue that will have to be resolved in court. West Virginia is looking to begin play in its new league next season. The Big East has been adamant about holding the Mountaineers to the 27-month exit penalty, meaning they would not be released until after the 2013 season as well.

Both sides have filed lawsuits over the matter. Big East commissioner John Marinatto has stated that league plans are to get to 12 teams with two six-team divisions for football.

Under those plans, Boise State, San Diego State, Houston, SMU, Air Force and, possibly, Louisville would form the West Division. Rutgers, Connecticut, Cincinnati, South Florida, UCF and Navy would comprise the East.

The addition of the first five schools is expected to boost the Big East's chances of retaining its automatic BCS qualifying status following the 2013 season.


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