NEW YORK – The Big East plans to invite Boise State, Air Force and Navy as football-only members, and Central Florida to compete in all sports, after it doubles the exit fee for current members to $10 million.
An official in the Big East, speaking on condition of anonymity because the conference had not authorized anyone to speak publicly about its plans, told the Associated Press the invitations could go out as soon as next week.
Conferences do not publicly invite new members unless they are confident those invitations will be accepted.
The Big East announced earlier this week it wanted to expand to 12 football schools.
Big East officials made protecting the conference’s automatic bid to the Bowl Championship Series their expansion priority. That pushed Boise State, which is in its first season in the Mountain West Conference after a decade in the Western Athletic Conference, to the top of the Big East’s most wanted list, along with the service academies.
The Broncos are 71-5 since 2006, finished 10th in the final BCS standings last season and at 5-0 seem on their way to a top-10 finish.
The Mountain West Conference does not have an automatic bid to the BCS. Nor does Conference USA, where UCF currently plays.
Later Friday, those two leagues announced they would “consolidate” their 22 football programs by 2013.
MWC commissioner Craig Thompson said he has been notified by the leaders of Boise State and Air Force that they had been in contact with the Big East, but the presidents of those schools also participated in the conference’s unanimous vote to approve the merger with CUSA. UCF also took part in the CUSA vote.
He said the merger creates stability and is a viable option for Boise State and Air Force, but he would not speculate on what those schools would do.
Right now, the Big East has only six schools committed to play football.