The Big East is expected to finally officially extend invitations to a group of six schools, according to a report.
The Big East was expected to extend invitations to Air Force, Boise State, Central Florida, Houston, Navy, and SMU by Tuesday night, according to the New York Post. The league will offer football-only membership to Air Force, Boise State, and Navy, while offering full membership to Central Florida, Houston, and SMU.
The official invitations come after the Big East lost another school -- this time West Virginia -- to another conference. No formal announcement has been made, but multiple reports suggest that West Virginia will leave the Big East for the Big 12.
West Virginia's move to the Big 12 makes it the fourth school this year to leave the Big East. Pittsburgh and Syracuse agreed to join the ACC in September, while TCU -- which never even played a game in the Big East -- agreed to join the Big 12 in October.
West Virginia will be forced to pay a $5 million exit fee and endure a 27-month wait period, but one report suggests that West Virginia will do everything in its power to be in the Big 12 for the 2013-14 season - approximately five months short of the full 27 month period.
The Big East could have recouped $10 million from West Virginia if an agreed upon exit fee increase was put into effect, but the measure was contingent on additional schools agreeing to join the Big East. If the conference had received commitments from Air Force and/or Navy, the exit fee would have increased to $10 million.
As of mid-morning Wednesday no official announcement has been made by the Big East, but it's considered to be only a matter of time before the invitations finally go out. There were some reports on Tuesday that the Big East would meet with Conference USA and the Mountain West to discuss a massive 28 team super alliance, but the Big East denied any scheduled meeting with those conferences.
The hope by the Big East is the addition of those six schools will allow the conference to maintain its BCS automatic qualifier status. The status allows for the Big East to send a conference team to a BCS bowl each year -- there are a few additional requirements -- which is worth quite a bit of money to the conference.
If the Big East was to lose that AQ status, it could mean the death of its relevancy as a football conference.
None of the Big East's targeted expansion schools have publicly stated they would accept the conference's invite, though five of the six schools met with commissioner John Marinatto in Washington, D.C. on Sunday. This was before news that West Virginia would head to the Big 12 was leaked, but it's believed that the six targeted schools are interested in joining the conference.
If the Big East is able to convince those six schools to join the conference, it would still need an additional school to reach the desired 12 football-playing schools goal. Early reports suggest that Temple or Memphis could be options, though there is some opposition to Temple joining the conference.
Villanova has publicly denied posing opposition to Temple joining the conference, but reports indicate that the basketball-only school doesn't want its Philadelphia turf infringed upon by Temple. Furthermore, according to basketball coach Jay Wright, Villanova would like to play football in the Big East.
Villanova wants to be in the Big East for football, bottom line, Wright told reporters at the Big East's basketball media day last week. We've said it. We've worked with the Big East on it. We understand the situation in the Big East right now. We have to be loyal members and let the football schools do what's best.
Villanova currently plays at the FCS level and would likely have to upgrade its facilities in order to compete at the FBS level.