Sources: Big East football to meet

Updated: September 20, 2011, 9:54 PM ET
By Pat Forde and Andy Katz | ESPN.com

Leaders of the football-playing members of the surviving Big East schools will meet Tuesday night in New York City to discuss the state of the conference, multiple sources told ESPN.com.

Presidents and athletic directors from Cincinnati, Louisville, Rutgers, South Florida and West Virginia are expected to convene in response to the jarring weekend news that Syracuse and Pittsburgh are leaving the Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference next year.

UConn president Susan Herbst is not attending the meeting, sources told ESPN's Joe Schad, as the school focuses on lobbying for entry to the ACC. Herbst likely is sending a school official to the meeting as the representative.

West Virginia won't be leaving for the ACC or SEC after overtures were denied by both conferences, according to a report on CBSSports.com. The Mountaineers explored the potential of a move to either the ACC or SEC, but school officials told the Big East they were denied and would remain in the Big East, according to the report.

Villanova, a Colonial Athletic Association team in football that won the FCS championship in 2009, wants to be considered as a candidate for the Big East, and is seeking an invitation to the meeting, according to a source. The Wildcats already are in the Big East in basketball.

One Big East source said he did not expect any substantial decisions to be made at the meeting, but called it "a chance to look each other in the eye and get a feel for who's in and who's out."

However, an official at one of the league's non-football schools questioned whether all of those attending can be trusted.

"Instead of looking each other in the eye, what they should all do is turn on their cell phones and show who they've been talking to and texting with," the official said.

Commissioner John Marinatto, who has been criticized as his league has been destabilized, also is slated to attend the meeting of football-only schools and ask each school for its commitment to stay in the conference, a source told ESPN's Joe Schad.

Among teams that would be considered for addition to the Big East, according to the source, are Central Florida, East Carolina, Army, Navy, and Air Force.

TCU, which is entering the league in 2012, will have athletic director Chris Del Conte at the meeting.

A Big East source said the league will keep a close eye on developments in the Big 12, which also has been rocked by the defection of Texas A&M and possibly other schools.

The source said a merger of "survivor" schools from the two leagues is one potential outcome of the conference realignment.

Meanwhile, reaction to the Big East's fast-disintegrating traditional alignment continued to pour in from former players.

"I'm just disappointed as a player, someone who got a chance to have great success in the biggest conference, and to see the biggest conference breaking up, you have a school like Syracuse joining the ACC," former Hoya star Dikembe Mutombo, who played at Georgetown from 1988-91, told ESPN's Willie Weinbaum. "Everyone is heartbroken, because if you look at the biggest rivalries and the biggest tournaments, you have Georgetown, UConn and Syracuse and St. John's, and now the top four schools are not going to have that because you have UConn joining the ACC, Syracuse leaving."

He added: "I don't know if it's for money reasons, because of the football programs. But for me it's very sad because I enjoy the rivalries and we're going to miss that."

Pat Forde and Andy Katz are senior writers for ESPN.com. Information from ESPN's Joe Schad was used in this report.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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