Transition Plan

All 14 current Big East conference schools have voted unanimously to support a 12-team football model, an increase in the league buyout from $5 million to $10 million, and to hold departing members Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the 27-month notification window, according to Commissioner John Marinatto.

"All 14 schools are excited about and have endorsed the [12-team] model," Marinatto said on Tuesday afternoon. "We have developed a plan for expansion that will keep the Big East strong, stable and vital."

The doubling of the buyout is contingent upon at least one school accepting a Big East offer, Marinatto said. He would not identify any of the schools that have been approached for membership, but he did say that no invitations have gone out as of yet. The doubled buyout would go into effect automatically if any one of a select group of schools, which have been identified internally, accepts an invitation.

Noting that the conference realignment has been "tremendously challenging and sensitive," Marinatto declined to identify any of the schools that have been approached by the Big East. He did not that discussions with some of those school have been ongoing for several months, and that he thought the league was close to going to 11 teams after TCU joined.

Marinatto admitted that the $10 million buyout figure was not "a magic number" but that it should send a message to those schools concerned about the Big East's long-term stability.

"We know that institutions are looking for stability, and this sends a message to those schools," he said of the buyout increase. "We are happy with the quality of the schools we are speaking to. We have expanded more than any other conference in the country. We faced similar challenges eight years ago and emerged extremely well. When the dust settles we will emerge stronger than ever.

"I don't know if $10 million is the right fugre, but for now the schools unanimously agreed that the $10 million is right for them."

Marinatto indicated that the buyout figure could be revisited when the leage renogitates its media rights next year.

Marinatto also addressed questions about the league's BCS automatic qualifier status. While he stopped short of offering guarantees, he did say he believed "we will be all right".

"The thing I can say is that the Big East, like every other AQ league, is guaranteed AQ status through 2013," he said. "We are committed to meeting the standards to keep that status, and the schools which are being approached will help with that."

In response to two different questions, Marinatto emphasized that the league would not back down from holding Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the 27-month window for departures, even if the league did add additional schools to its roster to get to 12 schools. In that case, the big East is prepared to play as a 14-school league for the next two years.

The commissioner said that while the Big East hopes to move as quickly as possible to implement the 12-team model, there is not a firm timetable for resolution.

"We won't rush to meet a deadline," Marinatto said of the process. "the merger between Conference USA and the Mountain West had no effect on our action, and the Missouri situation did not cuase us to pause. We will play to our strengths and move forward."

Marinatto noted that the "overall landscape of realignemtn is very unsettled", but chose his words carefully when discussing possible departures by current Big East members. He reiterated that all of the football members of the conference were in favor of the new 12-team model and the increased buyout.

Marinatto also emphasized that neither the league nor its members have had any discussions about disbanding the football side of the conference.

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