By Brian Murphy
Big East Commissioner John Marinatto did not rule out expanding to the Mountain Time Zone during a 30-minute teleconference about conference realignment Tuesday. The league has been talking with Boise State about a possible football-only membership, Boise State President Bob Kustra confirmed Saturday.
Marinatto said no invitations have been extended, but the league continues to pursue a 12-team football model. The Big East has six football members moving forward after the defections of Pittsburgh and Syracuse (to the ACC) and TCU (to the Big 12).
Among the rumored invites: Air Force, Navy and Boise State for football-only; Houston, SMU and Central Florida for all sports.
"We've obviously considered schools that are not within our geographic footprint before. We're considering those same kinds of situations. That's part of our flexibility and creativity as a league," Marinatto said. "I don't think there are any real challenges versus what we did when we were looking at that question."
The conference agreed to increase the exit fee for football programs from $5 million to $10 million Monday night. That fee increase takes effect as soon as one new member joins the league. Marinatto said that it was a unanimous vote among all 14 schools — six football and eight basketball members.
"We've identified specific teams, and if any one of those teams commits (to joining the league), the exit fee increases," Marinatto said, without identifying the teams.
The Big East's continuing football members are Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Rutgers, South Florida and West Virginia.
The Big East's non-football members are DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Notre Dame, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall and Villanova.
Marinatto made it clear that Pittsburgh and Syracuse will remain in the Big East until June 30, 2014. He said the Big East could have a 14-team league in 2012 and 2013 as a result.
Marinatto said the goal is to hold a conference championship game in football, possibly in New York City.
He stressed that the league has BCS AQ status for this season and the next two — the same as every other BCS AQ league. The BCS contract ends after the 2013 regular season and January 2014 bowls.
"We didn’t start this conference realignment situation. I think there is a right way to expand when necessary. We've proven ourselves as a BCS member," Marinatto said. "As we look to improve ourselves, we want to be as open and do it in an open manner as possible. We hope the new members will also be respectful. I don’t think anyone will be blindsided or feel bushwhacked when this process is complete."
• Here is a recap of the teleconference from Brett McMurphy at CBS Sports.com. McMurphy reports that the exit fee will be raised to $10 million once Air Force or Navy commits to the Big East.
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