Big East 'open' to talk Pitt, 'Cuse leaving early
Big East Commissioner John Marinatto says his league "might be open to a discussion" about allowing Syracuse and Pittsburgh to join the Atlantic Coast Conference for the 2013 football season.
The Big East reached a settlement with West Virginia on Monday that allows the school to become a member of the Big 12 in 2012.
The agreement upholds the Big East's bylaws, which require a departing school to give notification 27 months before leaving. West Virginia challenged that in a lawsuit.
Syracuse, Pitt and the ACC have said they would not challenge the Big East's rules, but would like the transition to happen as soon as possible.
Marinatto had previously said that the Big East intends to hold all three schools in the conference until 2014.
"But given the strength and speed of our expansion efforts, I think our board might be open to a discussion about 2013," Marinatto said in a telephone interview.
Even without Syracuse and Pitt, the Big East could have 11 football teams in 2013.
Memphis, Central Florida, SMU and Houston from Conference USA are set to join the Big East in 2013 for all sports. Boise State and San Diego State from the Mountain West are slated to join as football-only members in 2013. Navy is scheduled to join in 2015 for just football.
Marinatto added that he hoped a Big East football schedule for 2012 would be released in a week or two, though whether that schedule includes seven or eight members has not been determined.
The Big East currently has seven members for next season: Pitt, Syracuse, Connecticut, Cincinnati, Louisville, South Florida and Rutgers.
Marinatto said it's possible one of the schools pledged to join in 2013 could enter the league early to replace West Virginia, though he declined to say which one.
If the Big East can't get a replacement for West Virginia, its remaining members will be left scrambling to schedule another game.
"There are challenges on the table right now," he said. "We've considered all of that. We're looking at various scenarios in order to address that. We have plans in place to deal with each possibility."