UConn's Jim Calhoun is 'pro Big East'
STORRS, Conn. -- Connecticut's basketball coaches say they would like the Huskies to remain in the Big East, if it's possible.
Hall of Famers Jim Calhoun and Geno Auriemma spoke separately Wednesday, as reporters met with their teams in advance of Friday's official start of basketball practice.
"My thing is that I'm never, ever, to this day, never, ever will be anti-Big East," Calhoun said. "I'm pro-Big East and I hope that things can be worked out in the Big East. But, if they can't be, and we can find a better place for ourselves, then we would do that."
Calhoun said even after Syracuse and Pittsburgh leave, the league still will have nine basketball programs that made the NCAA tournament a year ago, and in his opinion is a stronger basketball conference than the ACC.
He said that is what he can pitch to recruits now. But he also acknowledged the uncertainty will eventually affect recruiting at UConn, especially in football.
Big East schools gave a go-ahead Monday for the conference to expand to as many as 12 teams for football, a move that could involve adding six members.
Auriemma said he too would like to remain in the conference, but isn't sure how some of the conference expansion plans that are being discussed would work for basketball.
He said Navy or Air Force, for example, would not be great fits for the basketball conference.
"They can compete in the leagues that they are in," he said. "For them to want to play basketball in the Big East, that doesn't make any sense. They are in the Patriot League and the recruiting environment for all those schools is kind of similar. I don't know that it would make any sense for them to move from there, from a basketball standpoint."
Auriemma said he hopes the conference can find perhaps four good basketball programs that can fill the void left by the departure of Syracuse and Pittsburgh.
"But, if it's true that it's all football driven, then it doesn't really matter what the basketball coaches want, does it," he said. "It doesn't really matter what Jim Calhoun wants or Geno Auriemma wants or anybody else wants."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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