The conference call held by John Marinatto started at 1:30pm sharp and lasted about a half-hour. The commissioner opened with a short statement announcing the new exit fee that was voted in yesterday and then took questions for the remainder of the call. Some notes follow:
- The vote to increase the exit fee was unanimous and the fee will move to $10million automatically once any one of a group of schools specifically identified by the conference agrees to accept an invitation to join.
- No specific expansion school names were mentioned.
- Marinatto noted that the league was also unanimous in supporting a 12-team model for football.
- There is no real concern with the possibility of adding schools in the mountain timezone, they dealt with the distance issue a year ago with TCU and are prepared for that.
- There is no timeframe for adding school and no invitations have been formally extended at this point, but they would like to move and wrap things up quickly.
- Under no scenario will Syracuse or Pittsburgh be allowed to leave the Big East before their 27 month notice period is over.
- If the Big East gets to 12 football members by next season, they will have a 14-team conference until Pitt and 'Cuse leave for the ACC.
- Marinatto says the league has not ruled out further expansion to benefit the basketball brand and quality, but didn't go much deeper into that point (as to whether that means a non-football addition or a basketball-friendly football school like Memphis).
- Notre Dame's President, Fr. Jenkins, is the chairman of the league and he has been very active in assisting Marinatto through this process.
- Ultimately, once the conference reaches 12 football members, they would like to hold a championship game for football. Marinatto suggested that they could hold the game "right here in New York City."
- The Big XII reached out to the Big East about talking to TCU before that move happened. Marinatto has not heard from the Big XII or any other conference about any of the other 6 football schools.
- The possibility of dissolving the football conference has not been discussed and there is no minimum number of teams where that would necessarily happen.
- Marinatto says the league will "play to its strengths," that the BCS bid is secure through 2013 and they are making moves they think will help them retain that bid.
- Marinatto said that the league is impressed by the quality of schools that have expressed an interest in joining.
- He also admitted that there is no "magic number," that would keep the Big East from losing more schools. They thought $5 million was pretty big when it was enacted, and now it isn't much.
As for Syracsue and Pitt being held to their 27 month commitment, the league is perhaps making the smartest move. That commitment won't prevent more teams from leaving, but it might make a conference looking for a quick addition think twice. If the Big East is holding teams to that notice provision, for example, the SEC won't be able to take WVU on next season to balance it's divisions, and no Big East school would help the Big XII get back to 10 or 12 members in short-order.
As far as the Big XII is concerned, it may cause them to take a harder look at BYU.