Big East to hold WVU to bylaws, extend invitations

With the conference undergoing massive changes, the Big East will extend invitations to firm up membership and hold West Virginia to rules about leaving the conference.

Big East commissioner John Marinatto issued a statement Tuesday, after the annual meeting of the conference's presidents, addressing both topics.

West Virginia caused a stir by filing a lawsuit Monday, less than a week after announcing it will begin competing in the Big 12 Conference next year. The school is seeking to leave the Big East immediately rather than adhere to conference bylaws, which state an institution must give 27 months notice before its departure.

But Marinatto's statement said the presidents confirmed the conference's commitment to enforce that notification period.

"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's statement said.

The Big East has undergone rampant changes over the last two months, as Syracuse and Pittsburgh were accepted into the ACC while TCU, which was set to join the conference next year, instead accepted an invitation to the Big 12.

The conference also plans to hold Syracuse and Pittsburgh to its departure policy, though TCU can begin play in the Big 12 next year since it never actually participated in the Big East.

The eventual departures of all those schools will leave the conference deflated unless it shores up membership -- something Marinatto said the Big East is currently working on.

He said the presidents voted unanimously to invite "specific institutions, including both football-only and all-sport members," to join the conference -- although he did not specify which schools those are.

Marinatto said he will soon speak to representatives of the schools. Reports earlier this month indicated that the Big East was considering invites for Boise State, Air Force, Navy and Central Florida. Three other schools -- Houston, SMU and Temple -- were also reported to be in the mix.