Big East to extend invites as it starts to rebuild - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

Big East to extend invites as it starts to rebuild

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Big East Commissioner John Marinatto says the conference will begin extending invitations to potential new members as the league tries to rebuild after losing four schools.

Marinatto declined to say which schools will receive invites to the Big East. He did say the league will hand out invites for football-only and all sports and the league is looking to expand westward.

The Big East's plan is to add Boise State, Navy and Air Force as football-only members and SMU, Houston and Central Florida for all sports.

The Big East is trying to rebuild after losing three founding football members - Pittsburgh, Syracuse and West Virginia - and member-to-be TCU over the last six weeks.

Marinatto issued the following statement, released on the Big East's website:

"We had a very productive meeting and were able to discuss the great progress we have made in the last few weeks regarding conference realignment.  

"Our Presidents voted unanimously to extend invitations to specific institutions, including both football-only and all-sport members to join the BIG EAST Conference.  I will be speaking to representatives of those schools shortly and look forward to announcing with them their acceptance into the BIG EAST.

"The addition of these members will extend our reach, bring us to exciting new markets, strengthen our status within the BCS, and lay the foundation for possible further expansion, all while maintaining the high quality and standards our Conference is known for. 

"In light of the lawsuit filed by West Virginia yesterday, the Presidents also discussed and confirmed our continuing commitment to enforce the Conference's 27-month notification period for schools choosing to leave. The Conference believes these claims to be wholly without merit and will explore all its legal options to protect its interests and to ensure that West Virginia lives up to its obligations."

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. With additional reporting from FOX19.com staff)

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