MORGANTOWN - The best way to tell how serious the Big East Conference is about expansion came perhaps not from what the league said on Tuesday, but in what it refused to say.
At the same time the league's presidents were voting to dive into adding two schools to bolster the football part of the conference, officials were essentially putting a gag order on all involved.
In other words, this must be serious.
"I'm going to defer all comment to the league,'' West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck said when reached after the meetings. "They've asked us not to discuss things publicly.''
Suffice it to say, though, that the conference finally seems poised to pull the trigger on expansion and do something about its scarcity of football-playing members.
When and where that expansion will take the league isn't quite clear, nor is how it will affect the already bloated basketball side of the equation.
Still, the league officially announced Tuesday that the presidents of the 16 member schools, by a unanimous vote, "approved the process to evaluate the terms and conditions for potential expansion candidates.''
The expansion agreed upon would increase the number of football-playing members of the league from eight to 10.
According to the short release from the conference during meetings of its presidents and athletic directors in Philadelphia, the presidents "agreed that the interests of each of the conference's 16 member institutions would be served by increasing the number of Bowl Subdivision football-playing members to 10.''
That unanimity would seem to fly in the face of what is an obvious rift between the eight current football-playing members of the Big East and the eight that do not field upper-tier football programs. The former group sees expansion as necessary for survival and the latter perceives it as making the already-cumbersome 16-team format in other sports - particularly basketball - even more difficult.
More than likely the non-football members see the vote for what it is - an exploration of expansion and not a cast-in-stone vote to approve it. That would come later once the prospective new members are identified and the details worked out and could be far more difficult a proposition on which to agree.
Luck, though, when pressed, did say that he believes everyone is behind the exploration.
"I would think that all of the athletic directors [are in favor],'' Luck said. "I think it's safe to say that all the schools are on the same page.''