Brigham Young University could be joining the Big East sooner rather than later, according to a report on Tuesday.
The Salt Lake Tribune's Jay Drew reported that BYU to Big East was close and that the final details were currently being worked out, but was not a done deal yet. BYU would move its independent football program into the Big East and keep the rest of its sports in the West Coast Conference, if it decides to join the conference.
If the Big East adds BYU, as is expected at this point, it'd be another big step in keeping its BCS automatic qualifier status. The conference has the status guaranteed through 2013, but could potentially lose the lucrative status if it does not expand properly. One of the kinks still being worked out with BYU is how to handle its independent television network, which posed problems for its candidacy with the Big 12.
BYU was at one point considered to be the favorite to replace Missouri as the Big 12's 10th school, but reports out of the conference indicated that issues with the network and the BYU school culture led it to pursue West Virginia instead. At the time BYU was relatively mum about the prospects of joining the Big 12, but football coach Bronco Mendenhall talked to reporters last week about joining the Big East.
There is a push and there are conversations that are in place for the Big East to convince or to have BYU join that conference, Mendenhall said. I trust our athletic director [Tom Holmoe] and President [Cecil] Samuelson to deal with all of that. I have been informed along the way. At some point there will be a decision with what our intentions will be.
Mendenhall told reporters that the biggest gain in joining the Big East would be its BCS status and that he believed it would have it extended past 2013.
The conference is hoping to achieve that by adding Air Force, Boise State, and Navy as football-only schools, while adding Central Florida, Houston, and SMU for all sports. Those schools have been rumored to join the Big East for weeks now, but the conference is yet to make an official announcement.
The league could have been prepared to make an announcement last week but held off after the Penn State scandal came to light, according to Drew. The aforementioned six schools all seem to be on board with joining the depleted conference, but have yet to all agree on when and where an announcement should happen.
The other major unknown is when each school would be able to join the Big East. Ideally the Big East would like for each targeted school to join for the 2012 season, but a few schools -- notably Boise State -- might be held back from joining until 2013.
The Big East needed to make its expansion push after losing four schools this past year to other conferences. It initially lost Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC in September; and lost TCU and West Virginia to the Big 12 in October.