Big East reportedly ready to issue invites

By Michael Manganello SPORTS EDITOR
On October 16, 2011

The Big East Conference could be preparing for a handful of new members, with the quintet of Central Florida, Houston, Southern Methodist, Air Force and Boise State expected to receive invitations as soon as this week to join the conference.

Struggling to survive following the departures of Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the Atlantic Coast Conference last month, as well as future member Texas Christian to the Big 12 last week, the Big East has now taken steps to ensure its long-term viability.

According to ESPN, reports surfaced Friday suggesting that a conference call among Big East school presidents had concluded with the decision to invite UCF, Houston and SMU as members for all sports, while Boise State and Air Force would be members for football only.

Saturday, Boise State President Bob Kustra told ESPN that he had not received an invitation from the Big East as of yet, and would not confirm whether he expected to receive one at all.

After months of accusing USF President Judy Genshaft of blocking UCF from the Big East, the Orlando Sentinel reported Saturday that Genshaft had "sponsored a motion asking the Big East to consider the Knights as a potential all-sports candidate."

One potential issue with this possible expansion is a football-only merger between Conference USA and the Mountain West Conference that was announced Saturday. All five candidates that will reportedly receive an invite from the Big East are currently members in one of those two conferences.

Another issue is that Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson has stated that, should Air Force and Boise State move their football teams to the Big East, they will not be allowed to keep their other sports in the Mountain West.

Boise State, currently undefeated and No. 5 in the nation, would provide renewed hope for the Big East to retain its status as an automatic qualifier to the Bowl Championship Series. The current BCS contract expires after the 2013 season, which means the Big East will retain its berth for at least the next two seasons.

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