Boise State waiting on Big East invite

Updated: October 16, 2011, 7:22 AM ET
By Andrea Adelson | ESPN.com

FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- Boise State president Bob Kustra said Saturday that his school has not received an invitation from the Big East but is considering all its conference options.

Kustra said he has only had informational discussions with Big East officials over the phone. He also declined telling the Mountain West that Boise State had no plans to leave the conference.

When asked what would factor into his decision to switch conferences, Kustra said, "We have two objectives for Boise State. One is to make sure that we are a member of a conference that has maximized the opportunity for revenue to build an even stronger program and that comes through TV and media rights.

"Secondly it's very important for us to think about AQ status. We believe year after year as we're nationally ranked we deserve the same type of opportunities as those teams who are in the AQ conferences. And for a long time we've felt that way. So we're very much interested in finding a way to get that AQ status. We're going to do it very carefully.

"We may not make a move at all. We love the Mountain West," Kustra continued. "I voted yesterday for this merger between Conference USA and the Mountain West because I sincerely believe it's the best thing for the Mountain West Conference, of which I am a member.

"But I also recognize as president of Boise State that I have some responsibility to our fans, to our alumni, to our students, to the community that has built this incredible team, to the coaches, (football) coach (Chris) Petersen ... it's imperative that we give them the opportunity they deserve to build an even stronger program and to get the access they deserve in postseason play. Now the way we're doing it is incredibly difficult to get that access."

In a short statement given to the AP on Saturday, Big East commissioner John Marinatto stressed the conference "has not extended membership invitations to any institutions."

There are no assurances the Big East would be able to retain its automatic qualifying status past 2013, and no assurances that all six remaining football playing members will stay with the conference.

When asked whether he needed to know those two key factors before making any decision, Kustra said, "You never make a decision until you have to and this is one I clearly don't have to make right now. All I have to factor into today is how to beat these guys at Colorado State."

The Big East has said it would aggressively pursue new members to refill its ranks following the defections of Pitt, Syracuse and TCU in the last month. Kustra said the Big East hasn't pressured him to make a decision, and he has no timetable to make a decision, either.

"They have to figure out what they're going to do and from what I read, they really haven't made those decisions yet so whenever that day comes, if in fact it would mean anything for our program, then would come the due diligence on our part," Kustra said. "But it's way premature since I have no indication of what they're up to and what their next steps are."

The Big East reportedly has targeted Boise State and Air Force as football-only members, and UCF, SMU and Houston as all-sports members. The Mountain West and Conference USA announced the formation of a football alliance Friday night in the hopes of stabilizing their conferences and possibly getting an AQ bid.

An official in the Big East told The Associated Press that conference leaders are slated to vote Monday on raising the exit fee to $10 million, which will clear the way to invite the six new members.

The official, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the league wasn't announcing its plans publicly, said he is confident the league's members are ready to move forward with the plan.

There are no guarantees either way -- staying in the MWC or leaving for the Big East -- that Boise State would get that coveted AQ spot.

"If the day ever comes that will certainly factor in," Kustra said of the AQ. "We will take that very seriously. We will consider that up against where we are, up against any other opportunities there might be. All options must remain on the table for Boise State University. In the meantime, this is a great place for Boise State to be in the Mountain West Conference. We're going to enjoy every minute of it."

The proposed move has been met with excitement at SMU, which has made no secret of its desires to move into an AQ conference.

"We will continue our efforts to achieve the university's goal of competing at the highest level of college athletics and are evaluating opportunities in the conference landscape," SMU athletic director Steve Orsini said in a statement Saturday.

Andrea Adelson is a college football writer for ESPN.com. Information from ESPNDallas.com's Art Garcia and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

ALSO SEE