Big East commissioner John Marinatto told reporters on Tuesday that the conference unanimously voted to extend invitations to certain schools and that official invitations will begin going out this week.

Marinatto refused to divulge what schools will be receiving invitations, but it is believed that Air Force, Boise State, and Navy will get football-only invites, while Central Florida, Houston, and SMU will be invited for all sports.

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

The Big East is hoping that the addition of those six schools will help it keep its BCS automatic qualifier status. The Big East's goal is to get to 12 football-playing schools, which means the Big East will likely have to add an additional seventh school to replace West Virginia. Marinatto said that the Big East hadn't voted on a seventh school yet, but could do so down the road.

Last Friday, West Virginia agreed to leave the conference to join the Big 12 for additional stability. Any school must inform the Big East 27 months in advance of departure, according to conference bylaws, but West Virginia is suing the conference in order to join the Big 12 by 2012.

As the Big East, in less than two months, had denigrated into a non-major football conference whose continued existence is in serious jeopardy, WVU had no choice but to accept the Big XII's offer, West Virginia's lawsuit says.

But Marinatto affirmed earlier comments telling reporters that the conference has no intention of letting West Virginia or Pittsburgh and Syracuse leave before the 27-month wait period is up.

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, Marinatto said.

Gabriel Feldman, associate professor of law and director of sports law at Tulane University, told the IBTimes that it could be difficult to prove Marinatto was the blame for conference realignment.

It's going to be a difficult argument for the school to make, Feldman, who hadn't reviewed West Virginia's lawsuit, told the IBTimes. I would think that it's difficult to put the blame of conference realignment on one particular conference.

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