Hot topic: Big East expansion

May, 25, 2011
5/25/11
9:00
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The Big East spring meetings are over, and there is nothing new on the expansion front. Yet the topic continues to generate speculation, fan interest and even some comments from a Hall of Fame basketball coach.

Commissioner John Marinatto declined to discuss any developments on the expansion front following the first two days of meetings in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. The league appears to be on hold as it continues to research whether to add no teams, one team or three teams in advance of negotiations for a new media-rights deal beginning in September 2012. Marinatto did say he wants a decision by then.

All that is left is speculation, something even Connecticut basketball coach Jim Calhoun did. When asked about the topic, Calhoun said UCF was "not a sexy name right now." He also predicted a basketball/football split. A recent blog poll put the question of who to add to the league to the fans, generating an enormous response. Not surprisingly, East Carolina is leading the vote.

UCF, East Carolina and Houston have been three names speculated the most as possible additions to the league, but each school has its pros and cons. Then there is Villanova, which was all set to accept an invitation until some league schools began questioning whether its addition was the smartest move.

The bottom line is the Big East has to figure out where it will get the greatest value. Any team that is added will have to bring in enough to add value to any future TV deal -- enough to offset splitting the revenues pie by one or more additional teams.

It makes no financial sense to add a team for the sake of adding it, or to add teams with a net result of decreased revenue distribution. East Carolina and UCF fans are passionate about the topic, and the schools no doubt would love to join the league. The same goes for any team in a non-AQ league. But from here, it appears adding TCU was the only no-brainer decision to be made at the time. After all, TCU adds instant football credibility and a major television market.

Fans are no doubt getting antsy, but the league also has to consider the basketball side of it because it has so many more teams. So it is understandable why there is no decision right now. The Big East has got to get this right.

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