Villanova was ready to upgrade football to join the Big East in April 2011, but the conference stalled and later imploded. Since then, things have gone quiet, but VUhoops obtained an update.
In April 2011, after a lengthy review of the possibility of moving Villanova's football program to the Bowl subdivision, the University was poised to accept an invitation to the Big East conference. After dialing into a conference call with officials from the then-eight Big East football members, it became apparent that the invitation that was expected would not be on the table at that time.
Nova was sent back to the drawing board, and as the university plotted to put together a stronger proposal for the Big East, Pittsburgh and Syracuse were apparently plotting to leave for the ACC. Shortly thereafter, West Virginia would follow and the panicked Big East membership was no longer discussing Villanova's football future.
At least, until a March 2012 press conference, introducing Temple University as a Big East school and announcing that the league would invest in "exploring Villanova's FBS future." It was a nice sentiment, but few details or promises related to an actual upgrade were given at that time, and even fewer details have been presented since.
"It's subsided," new Big East commissioner Mike Aresco said. "Villanova is looking at it. Down the road, I don't know what Villanova would necessarily want to do, but they're still reviewing it.
"Yeah, it definitely has...it's... things are basically, uh, I don't know what the proper term to use is. On that front, you know, they're quiet, but again, we'll continue a dialog with Villanova to see where they want to go down the road."
Villanova wouldn't disagree that things are quiet right now between them and the conference.
"[W]e are in a bit of a 'holding pattern' with regard to the Big East football issue," Nova athletic director Vince Nicastro explained in an email. "The Big East membership has not endorsed any expansion activity beyond adding a 14th football school — with focus on the western footprint."
Vince Nicastro, however, is quick to point out that despite that, things are happening with the football program.
"The Conference has, in fact, provided us with the resources referenced in March, and we are currently making and/or planning those investments in our program."
Those improvements include new locker room and weight room facilities for the program, replacing the aging current offerings that the program has been utilizing. Those are "the [two] most visible initiatives," according to Nicastro, and the University is hoping to raise additional money to augment the Big East's investment in those improvements as well.
Final approval still needs to be obtained for both facilities, but Nicastro believes that they will begin work on them by the end of this academic year.
Additionally, there are "programmatic improvements," being undertaken, as well as "on-going consulting" related to the growth and improvement of the football program.
At the moment, it appears that Villanova is no longer in a hurry to bring football to the Big East Conference, but Nicastro seems to indicate that the lack of urgency is at-least somewhat related to the conference's current lack of interest in Villanova. The university is investing the Big East's resources, as well as additional money being raised from donors, into football program improvements, that will bring the facilities and program at Villanova more in line with the FCS programs that are more widely viewed as being "FBS-ready."