Report: Big East raises exit fee to $10M

Updated: October 18, 2011, 3:23 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Big East presidents voted Monday night to double the exit fee for football members to $10 million, a person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the conference did not plan to make any announcements.

Commissioner John Marinatto has a teleconference scheduled with reporters for Tuesday.

The Big East is hoping the move will lead to adding up to six new schools to the conference, including Boise State as a football-only member.

The exit fee will remain $5 million for the league's eight non-football members, the person said.

The results of the vote were first reported by CBSSports.com.

A source told ESPN.com's Andy Katz last week that the Big East's plan was to send conditional invitations to Houston and SMU for all sports and Air Force and Boise State for football only.

The Houston Chronicle reported on Monday night that the Houston invitation has now been formally extended.

The Big East informed the four schools that if all four agree to join the Big East then the remaining schools would agree to an increase in the exit fee from $5 million to the $10 million range to show a commitment to the incoming schools.

The Big East's recruitment plan calls for replacing outgoing Pittsburgh, Syracuse and TCU with full-time members Houston, Southern Methodist and Central Florida, while adding Air Force and Boise State in football only.

The six remaining football playing schools weren't committing as of last week to raising the fee unless all four pledge to join the Big East in football with Houston and SMU joining in all sports.

Meanwhile, the Big East sent a separate all-sports invitation to UCF and are expecting the Knights to accept, the source told Katz.

Officials from all those schools have expressed concerns about the stability of the Big East.

What the Big East does have going for it -- at least for now -- is an automatic bid to the Bowl Championship Series. The Mountain West Conference and Conference USA do not.

Those two leagues announced last week they will merge for football by 2013, if not sooner, with the hope of increasing the chances to receive an automatic bid from the BCS down the road.

The Big East made Boise State a priority in expansion, along with Air Force and Navy, to help ensure the league keeps its automatic bid to the BCS beyond 2013.

"I've been very vocal about my thoughts regarding the BCS and when they organize in 2013, I hope there's a way to deal with some of these inequities," Boise State President Bob Kustra told the AP on Saturday. "But in the meantime, it seems like our responsibility is to get as close as we can to AQ status as we can."

Boise State is nearly 1,900 miles away from the Big East's closest current member, Louisville, but with Air Force, based in Colorado Springs, and the two Texas schools the league can create a western division.

The Big East is on shaky ground, trying to reconfigure after losing two members, and one would-be member, in the last two months.

Pittsburgh and Syracuse announced last month they will move to the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Big East rules require them to stay in the league for the next two seasons and Marinatto has said he will hold the Panthers and Orange to that. It seems unlikely Pitt and Syracuse will be forced to stay if the Big East can get to 12 football members by 2012.

TCU was slated to join the Big East in 2012, but the Horned Frogs reneged on that commitment and accepted an invitation to the Big 12. TCU is free to go immediately because it was never an official member, but the Big East is expecting to collect a $5 million exit fee.

Trying to recruit new members has been tricky for the Big East because its remaining members have not committed to stay in the league.

Louisville and West Virginia are two of the leading choices for the Big 12 if it needs to replace Missouri, a source with direct knowledge of the Big 12's expansion panel's plans told ESPN.com's Andy Katz Monday.

Connecticut has interest in joining the ACC if it expands again, and there has been speculation about Rutgers moving, too.

The Big East also has eight members that do not compete in the league in football: Villanova, Georgetown, St. John's, Providence, Seton Hall, Marquette, DePaul and Notre Dame.

Information from ESPN.com senior writer Andy Katz and The Associated Press and was used in this report.

ALSO SEE