Sometime this afternoon, a rumor started to spread on the internet that Villanova would make an announcement on Wednesday morning regarding the proposed move to Big East football. The internet churned over that rumor and speculation and ruminations over what the press conference would announce were rampant for a few hours.
VUhoops reached out to the Sports Information Director at Villanova to find out if there rumored press conference was going to happen upon hearing of the rumor. It turns out that the rumor was baseless. Dean Kenefick confirmed this evening that there was "no truth to the rumor of a wednesday morning press conference."
In fact, there are no announcements on the issue scheduled as of Monday, April 25, 2011.
As we have been told numerous times, this is a story about a stadium. PPL Park may not be big enough to appease the sensibilities of the Big East football schools. While ticket revenue isn't shared with conference opponents like it is in the Big Ten, concerns over how the conference would be perceived with PPL among its venues ruled the day on April 10th.
West Virginia's Oliver Luck declined to comment to VUhoops.com on the issue, but did comment in the West Virginia media last week. He started talking about Villanova's stadium issue, before switching gears to say:
When we talk about adding a 10th member, the question is what does that 10th member bring and what are the other options, quite honestly. It's sort of like buying a car, you don't go and just look at one model. You look around and say what are the different options, what are the different prices, and what are the plusses and minuses? I think a lot of schools were interested in having a better sense of what other possibilities would be out there.
It seems like at least Oliver Luck, but likely at a few other schools were more interested in kicking the tires on some outside options for a 10th member -- or perhaps they want to consider the option of staying at 9 members for a while.
They prime candidates for a 10th football member would be Central Florida, Houston, or ECU. Some unconcerned (and unlikely) rumors even surfaced to suggest that at least one Big East football member had suggested Temple be given a second chance.
The problem with outside-expansion is that it would not be popular with the non-football-playing members of the conference (and may even be unpopular with a few of the football schools). It would take a 75% vote of membership to give a school full-membership in all sports (and there are conflicting reports over whether football membership alone requires the same).
TCU was not interested in joining as a football-only member and it took the support of the basketball conference to get the Horned Frogs full membership to facilitate their move. It is unknown whether any of the outside Big East football targets would be willing to accept that set-up -- or even whether the Big East itself is willing to return to the football-only model that they worked to scrap in the late-90's.
The discussion over Villanova is still on-going, but don't hold your breath, this could go on for a while.