Big East exit fee to double if expansion plan executed
Big East commissioner John Marinatto on Tuesday formally announced his league unanimously voted to double its exit fee to $10 million for football members and outlined that the conference is moving toward a 12-team football model.
Marinatto said the increased exit fee would kick in if one of a few "identified specific teams" agreed to join the league. Those are believed to be the country's three major service academies, with Navy and Air Force reported as targets.
Marinatto said the increased exit fees "send a message to institutions" targeted by the league.
"We're all looking for the same thing: stability," Marinatto said.
The commissioner wouldn't discuss the schools specifically targeted by the Big East. Those are believed to be Navy, Air Force and Boise State as football-only members. Central Florida, Houston and SMU would be invited as full members.
"When the dust settles," Marinatto said, "we will emerge stronger than ever."
The Big East is one of six BCS conferences for this season and the next two. The commissioner added it's the goal "to meet the standards" in place to continue as such.
West Virginia, Louisville and Cincinnati, three of the six football schools still on board for the long haul, could be targets of other conferences looking to expand, reportedly including the Big 12.
"I realize alignment is very unsettled," Marinatto said. "We've taken hits before and proven to be very creative. I think our members are very excited about our new model."
Marinatto was asked why the exit fee wasn't increased higher than $10 million.
"I don't think there's a magic number to prevent schools from leaving," he said.
The issue, he said, will be revisited in 11 months, when the league negotiates a new television contract.
The commissioner also said his league is "not going to pause" to wait for the Missouri situation to be resolved. The Tigers could be moving from the Big 12 into the Southeastern Conference. If so, that would open a spot in the Big 12. If not, the SEC might take in another member.
When asked specifically about Louisville and WVU, Marinatto said that "all 14 schools are excited about and have endorsed the 12-team [football] model. I think all endorsed in good faith."
Marinatto said he has not been contacted by other leagues about recruiting Big East members "since the TCU situation."
The commissioner also said establishing a football championship game is a goal.
"Ultimately, that's where we'd like to go," he said, pointing to New York City, "mirroring what we do in basketball with our tournament."
Marinatto said Pitt and Syracuse will be held to their agreement to stay for a 27-month period before heading to the ACC. He added the 27-month period is part of the new $10 million exit contract.
"I think," Marinatto said, "we'll be fine."
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