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Big East to invite Boise State, 5 others

CONFERENCE REALIGNMENT — Less than a week after West Virginia announced it would be leaving to join the Big 12, it looks like the Big East will be adding Boise State and five other schools.
By RALPH D. RUSSO , AP College Football Writer Published: November 1, 2011

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Big East is ready to start adding members after spending the last month and a half losing them.

A person familiar with the decision says the Big East will invite Boise State, Navy and Air Force for football only and SMU, Houston and Central Florida for all sports.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the conference was not ready to announce which schools its members had voted Tuesday to extend invitations to in the upcoming days.

Commissioner John Marinatto declined to give specifics of the Big East's plan after meeting with the league's presidents at a Philadelphia hotel. He did say he expected the targeted schools to accept, but added that there are still details to work out with each institution.

“As we've learned over the last two months, don't believe anything anybody tells you. Nothing's done until it is over. So I'm obviously being very cautious and that's why I'm reluctant to say names of schools,” he said.

He did acknowledge the league intends to expand west.

Boise State and Air Force, both currently in the Mountain West Conference, and SMU and Houston, members of Conference USA, would be in the Big East's western division. Navy and UCF would be part of the league's eastern division and the Big East would likely play a conference championship game.

“We have not received an invitation from the Big East. However, we understand the things are moving in that direction,” UCF spokesman Grant Heston said.

The Big East has been working on a plan to add those six schools and reconfigure as a 12-team football conference since not long after Syracuse and Pittsburgh announced on Sept. 18 that they would be leaving for the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“We got reaffirmation from our members that that was the way we wanted to go,” he said. “It was probably a very small part of our meeting today, where they just re-affirmed everything we had been talking about and authorized me to move forward with formal discussions to get this all wrapped up as soon as possible.”

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