Big East announces plans to add six teams, but real story is what's left unsaid

The Big East presidents and chancellors had a conference call today, followed by an announcement that the conference will consider adding up to six football playing members.  That's news, but an even bigger story is what the presidents did not agree to do: raise the exit fees for member schools.

There are two things to take away from the failure to raise exit fees. The first thing is that most or all of the six current football members are all still hoping they get an invitation to play football somewhere else. If UConn thought it had no chance at the ACC, or Louisville felt a Big XII invite wasn't around the corner, the logical thing to do would be to raise fees to try and lock everyone in. Instead, everyone is looking to get out, and trying to do so as cheaply as possible.

Perhaps more importantly, not raising the exit fee sends a strong signal to the six football teams the Big East wants to add: "Yes, we want you, but who knows who'll be here when you show up." VUHoops reported over the weekend that unless the football members showed a strong commitment to the league by upping the entrance fee it was unlikely that the Wildcats would consider moving up their football team. You can beat that Army and Navy will have similar thoughts. Investing the money (in Nova's case) or leaving the relative stability of Independence (in the case of the service academies) to join the Big East has a certain appeal if it means matching up with West Virginia, Louisville, South Florida and yes, even UConn. But that appeal disappears if you remove some of those names and replace them with East Carolina, Central Florida and Temple. 

At first blush today's news makes it seem like the Big East is acting from a position of strength, but unless exit fees are raised the league will still be close to death.

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