ORLANDO, Fla. - The Big East's long-awaited additions are set, with more rebuilding to come.
The conference is preparing to announce the additions of Boise State and San Diego State as football-only members and Houston, Central Florida and SMU for all sports as soon as Wednesday, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press. The five schools will join in 2013.
The person spoke Tuesday on condition of anonymity because details were still being worked out with the schools and plans for an announcement were being completed.
The Big East has been trying to rebuild as a 12-school football conference since Syracuse and Pittsburgh announced they would be moving to the ACC and West Virginia announced it was leaving for the Big 12. TCU also reneged on a commitment to join the Big East and instead accepted an invite to the Big 12.
The Star-Ledger in New Jersey first reported the Big East was on the verge of making the additions.
The Big East has also been pursuing Navy and Air Force as football-only members, but the military academies are not yet ready to commit to the conference, the person said.
While the Big East is finally about to expand, it's still very much a league in flux.
Commissioner John Marinatto has pledged to hold Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia to the league bylaws and keep the schools in the Big East for two more football seasons. Syracuse, Pitt and the ACC have said they would like to move on as soon as possible, but are not challenging the Big East's rules.
West Virginia is. The school has sued the Big East and wants to join the Big 12 in 2012. The Big 12 needs a replacement for Missouri, which next year is headed to the Southeastern Conference, to have the 10 members it needs to meet the conditions of its television contracts.
"I think what John Marinatto just did, he should get a substantial raise for what he just accomplished," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "Getting Boise State. Getting Houston, SMU. I think that is as good of a job for a commissioner with his back against the wall as I've seen since I've been in athletics. The teams you lost aren't as good in football as the teams you're bringing in."
The Big East is in an even trickier situation. It has contract requirements to meet next season, as well, plus it will begin negotiating a new TV deal in 2012.
Houston, SMU and UCF play in Conference USA and the notification date for those schools to switch leagues next year has passed. Boise State is in its first season as a member of the Mountain West Conference, where San Diego State also competes.
CBSSports.com reported Boise State will place its other sports teams in the Western Athletic Conference, a league it left after last season, and that San Diego State's other teams will compete in the Big West.
It would cost Boise State and San Diego State millions of dollars more to join the Big East in 2012 than in 2013.
So the Big East could be headed into next season with three lame duck teams. And even with the upcoming additions, it still does not have 12 teams committed to the league for 2013.
The Big East eventually wants to have two divisions of six teams and be able to hold a conference title game.
The grand plan is to have Boise State, San Diego State, Houston, SMU and possibly current member Louisville in the west division. The east division would have current members South Florida, Rutgers, Connecticut and Cincinnati, along with UCF.
The Big East is hoping that Air Force can round on the west and Navy the east. But, for now, that's still just a plan.
Boise State and other schools ready to join are hoping the strange geographic pairing will lead to increased television revenue and more access to the Bowl Championship Series and its big payouts.
The Big East pursued BYU as a western partner for Boise State, but when those talks fell through because of BYU's desire to hold the TV rights to its home games, the league directed its attention to San Diego State.
San Diego is 3,067 miles away from the Big East office in Providence, R.I.
The Big East, which has thrived for years as one of the nation's best basketball leagues, has eight schools that do not play football in the league: Providence, St. John's, Georgetown, Marquette, DePaul, Notre Dame, Seton Hall and Villanova.
"The Big East has been the No. 1 conference in all of basketball, obviously, by the amount of bids," Pitino said. "Now, have you made basketball stronger? No. You're not replacing Syracuse and Pittsburgh, so my hope is that they'll go out there and get a Temple or a Memphis to keep basketball strong."
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