It was a little less than a year ago that the Big East conference emerged from it's November conclave with the news that the football schools would add two more to their ranks to reach a total of 10 members (and potentially as many as 18 basketball members). Difficult times require difficult measures, however, and after yet another raid, the now-6 member football league has been given approval by the Big East presidents to double in size.
The Big East released a statement following the morning's teleconference that they were ready to look at a 12-team football model. The conference released the following statement:
"On a teleconference earlier today, our Presidents and Chancellors authorized the BIG EAST Conference to engage in formal discussions with additional institutions and are considering moving to a model that includes 12 football playing schools."
As we previously noted, the Big East would not accomplish much by just adding football-only members to the conference. To be an FBS football conference under NCAA rules, there must be 8 full members of the league who play both FBS football and play a total of 6 mens and 8 women's sports in that conference. So, at least two full members will have to be added to the conference, one of which could be Villanova.
Nova has expressed an interest in joining the reconstituted Big East in football if the conference is able to stabilize and agree on new exit penalties that would guarantee that the conference would still exist when Villanova's transition to FBS would be completed. Navy is waiting for the Big East to do the same.
One scenario that would work for getting the Big East to 12 members in football without bloating the basketball league or forcing a split, is to add three service academies as football-only members. Army, however, has expressed little interest in joining a conference, and if their minds cannot be changed on the matter the Big East will have to move on without them and either find another football-only addition, or more-likely, add a 17th all-sports member.
Of course, the Big XII still looms on the horizon looking to perhaps snatch one or two Big East schools if Missouri joins the SEC. They may grab those schools anyway, but that conference will remain in a holding pattern until that situation is resolved. If one or two more football schools were to leave, the Big East's BCS status would be in a very fragile state (and likely gone), and it is not clear if the football conference would rebuild anyway or just dissolve.