The Big East has extended an invitation to Houston to join as an all-sports member in its latest expansion move, according to a report.
Houston was initially speculated to be a Big East expansion target last week, but now it appears the conference has officially extended an invitation to the Conference USA school after a Big East conference call.
Houston's president and athletic director are expected to travel to New York later this week to meet with Big East officials and could join the conference as soon as 2013, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The invitation comes after the 14 remaining schools in the Big East unanimously agreed to increase the conference exit fee from $5 million to $10 million. The measure, according to reports, was needed to convince schools like Air Force and Navy that the conference is stable and worth joining.
Those three schools plus Boise State, Central Florida, and SMU are the believed targets for the Big East to increase to 12 football playing schools. The conference hopes that the addition of the six schools could help add stability, as well as help the conference keep its BCS automatic qualifying status.
But even with the good news that came with the bickering Big East schools finally agreeing to raise the exit fee, the conference experienced another setback with news that Missouri would be applying to join the SEC in the near future.
The New York Times first reported that Missouri would be applying to join the SEC in the very near future -- possibly as early as Thursday or Friday -- and the SEC was expected to accept the school's application to be the league's 14th team.
Missouri deciding to leave for the SEC means that the Big 12 now needs to add one or three more teams to its current nine school conference. When previously discussing the possibility of Missouri heading to the SEC, Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas stated that the conference would then expand to either 10 or 12 teams, but there was no current consensus on what number to expand to.
If the Big 12 decides to expand to 12 teams, it would be bad news for the Big East. The most talked about expansion targets for the Big 12 are BYU, Louisville, and West Virginia. Both Louisville and West Virginia would likely accept a Big 12 offer -- even after agreeing to a higher Big East exit fee.
If the Big 12 was to offer and accept Louisville and West Virginia, the Big East might finally reach its doomsday scenario. The conference might be unable to get Houston and the other schools to agree to join the conference if teams continue to be poached by bigger and more financially stable conferences.
The Big East has set a 1:30 p.m. teleconference call on Tuesday with commissioner John Marinatto to discuss conference realignment. The New York Post reports that Marinatto won't discuss specific teams or plans, but will merely focus on the increased buyout fee and possibly discuss the 27-month waiting period rule.
The rule makes schools announce their departure 27 months in advance - meaning schools like Pittsburgh and Syracuse may have to wait an additional 27 months before joining the ACC.