Boise State, Big East officials meet

Boise State president Bob Kustra met with Big East commissioner John Marinatto in Boise on Thursday as the league continues to explore its expansion options.

Kustra said in a statement that the school would continue its "due diligence in this matter."

"We had an informative meeting today with officials from the Big East conference," Kustra said in his statement. "Commissioner John Marinatto made a presentation regarding possible ideas for conference expansion and what role Boise State could potentially play in those plans. We appreciate the outreach on the part of the Big East Conference and will continue our due diligence in this matter.

"As we have indicated consistently, we will take our time in evaluating conference affiliation options and we will make an informed decision representing the best interests of the university. Boise State is a quality institution with an elite football program and a significant national brand identity. As a result, we are an extremely valuable partner when it comes to conference affiliation."

Marinatto met with Air Force officials Wednesday in Colorado Springs, Colo. The two Mountain West Conference schools have been targeted as football-only members to join the Big East, which is down to six football-playing schools.

Boise State has emerged as a top candidate because of the quality of its football team. Kustra also met with Big East officials in Washington, D.C., on Sunday.

The University of Houston's board of regents voted unanimously Thursday night to give chancellor and president Renu Khator authority to negotiate a contract to move the Cougars into a more lucrative league, likely the Big East.

The regents met for about 90 minutes in executive session before a 9-0 vote. Khator, who is visiting Israel on business, joined the meeting via Skype.

The Big East is considering adding Houston, along with SMU and Central Florida for all sports, and Boise State, Navy and Air Force for football only. The league offers an automatic bid to the Bowl Championship Series, something that Conference USA does not.

"We talked through it in every detail," board of regents chairwoman Nelda Luce Blair said. "We are very, very proud of our chancellor, and we know she has the great ability to do everything possible to send this university forward even more. We are a tier-one university, we plan to stay that way, we plan to grow even stronger, and our athletics are a large part of that."

Houston is a founding member of Conference USA, which was created in 1995 from the merger between the Metro and Great Midwest conferences. The Cougars were left out when the Big 8 merged with four Texas schools in the Southwest Conference to form the Big 12 in 1996.

"We have authorized Chancellor Khator to evaluate opportunities and options that may become available to the University of Houston, with the understanding that any change in our conference affiliation must match our tier-1 aspirations," Blair said. "2011 has been a remarkable year, and we will not pursue any opportunities that do not advance these goals and ensure our continued progress and success."

Andrea Adelson is the Big East blogger for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.