- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 18, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - The Big East wants to expand to 12 football teams and “the sooner the better.”

The problem is the Big East can’t be sure if its current members are staying put until Missouri, the Big 12 and the Southeastern Conference figure out what their next steps will be in the ongoing drama of conference realignment.

“The overall landscape is still so very unsettled,” Big East Commissioner John Marinatto said Tuesday during a conference call with reporters.

“We’re not going to pause until the Missouri situation is settled because it might not be settled for a while.”

The Big East’s presidents unanimously voted Monday night to increase the league’s withdrawal fee from $5 million to $10 million when an expansion plan is executed, Marinatto said.

Marinatto declined to talk about specific schools the Big East wants to add, but did say the Big East has “identified specific teams, and if any one of those teams commits (to joining the league), the exit fee increases.”

A person with knowledge of the Big East’s plan told The Associated Press that the addition of Navy or Air Force would trigger the increase in the exit fee. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk publicly about which schools the league is targeting.

Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk said in a phone interview Tuesday the Big East and the academy have been in contact, but he was unaware of the league’s most recent move.

“Certainly a reconfigured Big East with stable core members is something the Naval Academy needs to consider,” he said.

Air Force spokesman Troy Garnhart said in an email school officials would not comment.

Gladchuk said the two academies communicate, but will make decisions independently.

“I’m not convinced that it needs to be a package deal,” Gladchuk said.

The conference’s plan to get to 12 members includes Navy, Air Force and Boise State as football-only members and Central Florida, Houston and SMU for all sports, though that has not been made public by the league.

Navy is an independent. AFA and Boise State play in the Mountain West Conference. UCF, Houston and SMU are in Conference USA.

Marinatto said no invitations have gone out and he could not give a timetable for when the Big East hopes to complete its expansion work.

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