- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Big East's policy is to keep all expansion talk as private as possible. But the league did issue a statement from commissioner John Marinatto this afternoon about Villanova delaying its vote on joining the league in football, reportedly because of concerns by some in the conference over the school's plans.
“The Big East Conference and Villanova University have worked closely with each other over the past several months regarding potential football membership," Marinatto said in the statement. "We will continue with our due diligence process and work with Villanova to continue to share relevant information and materials. The Big East Conference obviously very much values its long-standing relationship with Villanova and we are committed to continuing to work with them on this matter in an open and forthright manner. Until there is additional information to report, the conference plans no further comment.”
Villanova president Fr. Peter Donohue also sent out a letter to school supporters about the delayed vote:
"We very recently learned that the Big East Conference needs more time to complete its due diligence regarding Villanova’s potential football membership. Without a clear and formal invitation from the Big East, we cannot proceed. We are now working with the Big East to provide whatever additional information and details we can. It is our hope that in the near future we will proceed with the Board of Trustees vote as planned."
This clearly isn't a closed case, although Villanova may either have to find a more suitable stadium option or convince more Big East members that its plan can work as is. Because Villanova is already a member in the Big East for other sports, the conference wants to treat the school as fairly and politely as possible.
Eventually, though, this will come down to a yea or a nay on the Wildcats. The concerns about the program's ability to support big-time football certainly appear valid. And if they're enough of a problem to prompt a nay vote, the Big East will have to move on to other options, while dealing with some potential hurt feelings by a longtime member.