- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Big East Commissioner John Marinatto says he has been in constant contact with Dan Beebe of the Big 12 and John Swofford of the Atlantic Coast Conference in recent days and has suggested the three meet to discuss conference realignment.

Marinatto didn’t reveal details about his conversations with his fellow commissioners but said Tuesday: “I thought it would be important for us to meet face-to-face and take the lead in trying to do things the right way.”

Marinatto also has spoken with NCAA president Mark Emmert, but he said Emmert was not planning to hold any meetings with conference commissioners to discuss conference realignment.

In a statement to the AP, Swofford said he is open to Emmert’s “involvement in helping us find a process that better serves the greater good of college athletics.”

“As it relates to conference realignment, if we can find a more structured way to do business with each other, we need to try to find it,” Swofford said. “In my opinion, further exploration would be healthy and beneficial for our profession.”

The NCAA president doesn’t have the power to stop schools from changing conferences and Marinatto pointed out that Emmert’s involvement would likely be limited by potential legal issues such as restriction of trade and antitrust laws.

Beebe’s conference, which nearly was wiped out last year when the Pac-10 expanded, is in danger of losing Texas A&M to the Southeastern Conference.

If the Aggies end up in the SEC, the league likely would need to add at least one more member.

There has been rampant speculation the SEC, which has 12 members, could target another school from the Big 12, or from the ACC and Big East for further expansion.

“We can and must be mindful everyone’s best interests and be constructive and not destructive,” Marinatto said. “But we all realize we are competitive and we have different constituencies to serve.”

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Ralph D. Russo can be followed at https://www.twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

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