Is Notre Dame to blame for Big East woes?

A lot of people have wondered why the Big East allows Notre Dame to remain in the league without its most important team playing in the conference.

UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma wondered the same Thursday when he blamed Notre Dame for the woes of the conference. Auriemma was candid in his comments, essentially saying if the Irish had joined in football, the league would not be teetering on the brink of collapse.

Here are a few of his comments:

"They've been in our league 17 years, so how long are we going to date before we just decide this ain't working. And I'm not happy about it," Auriemma said at the conference's annual women's basketball media day Thursday. "That's not the opinion of the University of Connecticut, the Big East Conference. ... That's just Geno Auriemma's opinion."

"We've got one school that holds the future of our league in the palm of their hand and they're not really that concerned about it. They're looking out for their best interest and I don't blame them. But join us in football and then look out for your best interest. I applaud that. Every school has a right to do that. I just don't like the way we've gone about it."

The Big East is trying to survive after the departures of Pitt and Syracuse. In 2003, the Big East lost Miami, Boston College and Virginia Tech and has been the hardest hit of all the conferences when it comes to losing members. Commissioner John Marinatto wants to get to 12 football-playing teams, but there could be more defections depending on what happens with Missouri, the Big 12 and SEC.

"If Notre Dame had come in as a football and basketball school when they came in, we wouldn't have a problem. Miami wouldn't have left. Virginia Tech wouldn't have left. Boston College wouldn't have left. We probably wouldn't have any of these issues, would we?" Auriemma said.