Report: Big East, Boise St. on fence

NEW YORK -- The Big East is considering adding Boise State football to help bolster the conference's chances of retaining its BCS automatic bid, though both sides still need to be persuaded that it's the right move.

A college football official, who spoke Thursday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the Big East's plans, says some Big East presidents are resisting adding Boise State and the school itself has reservations about joining a conference in flux.

The Big East said earlier this week it would like to expand to 12 football schools and split into two divisions, which would allow the league to play a championship.

The official said that some Big East leaders believe the priority in expansion should be bringing in programs that will ensure the Big East remains an automatic qualifying BCS conference when the current Bowl Championship Series television and bowl contracts run out after the 2013 season.

Boise State could be just what the Big East needs. The Broncos have had one of the winningest programs in college football recently, going 71-5 since 2006.

The BCS has a formula for evaluating the strength of a conference that takes into account the final BCS rankings of each team in a league. Even if Boise State joined the Big East next season, its final BCS ranking of 10th while playing in the Western Athletic Conference last year, and its ranking this season while playing in the Mountain West Conference, would count toward the Big East's ledger when it is reviewed after the 2013 season.

No. 5 Boise State is 5-0 heading into this weekend's game at Colorado State.

Losing its automatic BCS bid could cost the reeling Big East millions of dollars in revenue down the road.

Last month, Pittsburgh and Syracuse announced they would be leaving the Big East to join the Atlantic Coast Conference. That left the Big East with six football members: Louisville, Cincinnati, West Virginia, Rutgers, Connecticut and USF.

The Big East also has eight schools that do not play football: Villanova, Georgetown, St. John's, Providence, Seton Hall, Marquette, DePaul and Notre Dame.

The Big East has been holding conference calls all week, including Thursday, to discuss expansion issues.

The Sporting News, citing a source close to the Big East, reported Thursday that a Friday conference call would include a vote on increasing the exit fees for universities that leave for other conferences.

The source told the Sporting News that current Big East schools would be asked to approve a change in the league bylaws that would require a school to pay three times its yearly share of conference television revenue to leave the Big East.

Under the current deal, that increase would bump the buyout to between $15 million to $17 million, according to the Sporting News.

Complicating matters in the Big East are the at times conflicting agendas of the football schools and the other members.

Aside from Boise State, Navy and Air Force also have been targeted as football-only members by the Big East, and the league is considering Temple from the Mid-American Conference and Central Florida and East Carolina from Conference USA as members in all sports.

SMU and Houston from CUSA also are possibilities, allowing the Big East to regain the presence in Texas it thought it was going to have with TCU.

Having the Texas schools, along with Air Force, which is in Colorado Springs, Colo., in a western division of the league, would give Boise State some reasonable road trips. The closest current Big East football member to Boise, Idaho, is Louisville -- 1,879 miles away.

Last week, TCU reneged on its decision to join the Big East in 2012 and instead joined the Big 12.

The official said Boise State has concerns about the commitment of the Big East's current members.

The Big 12 could be in the market to expand again, especially if Missouri leaves for the Southeastern Conference, and Louisville and West Virginia are among the schools it would consider adding.

Also, UConn has interest in joining the ACC if that league expands past the 14 it will have when Pitt and Syracuse join. The Big East has said it will hold Pitt and Syracuse to the league's 27 months' notification rule and the two will not be allowed to join the ACC until 2014.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.