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Big East doubles exit fees for members

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The Big East formally announced Tuesday it had doubled the fee schools must pay in order to leave the conference, but maintained no invitations have yet been extended to other schools to join.

The Big East's presidents and chancellors voted unanimously Monday night to double the exit fee to $10 million for football schools. The exit fee will reportedly stay at $5 million for basketball-only schools.

"This development is a significant step forward, as well as a positive demonstration and acknowledgment of the continued benefits of being in the Big East Conference," Big East commissioner John Marinatto said in a statement.

"It sends a message to those institutions we are talking to about joining us … Each of our member schools is behind this effort, and we are confident we can achieve it. We hope to have an announcement soon concerning new members."

Marinatto denied a report in the Houston Chronicle that the University of Houston had already received an invitation to join the Big East. He did, however, confirm the conference wants to expand to 12 football teams, but added no invitations have gone out.

"We're not going to rush ourselves to meet anyone's deadline. We have a lot to offer, and we're going to get this done right," he said on a conference call with reporters.

Pittsburgh and Syracuse are set to join the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), leaving the Big East with six football schools. Big East rules state a member school must give 27 months notice before departing the conference.

Marinatto said Pitt and Syracuse would be held to that obligation, meaning they would have to remain in the Big East through the 2014-15 academic year.

The Big East is expected to invite Houston, SMU and Central Florida to play all sports, along with Boise State, Navy and Air Force to play football only.

"All 14 of our schools, based on the call we had last night, are excited about an endorsed 12-football team model that we're advancing," Marinatto said. "All of them also voted to increase the withdrawal fee. And I respect all the people that are on the call and the institutions that are on the table, and I think that we're dealing with all of them in good faith."

Marinatto speculated if the 12-team expansion plan turns out to be successful, a football championship game could be held in New York.

However, with reports indicating that Missouri will seek to depart the Big 12 to become the 14th member of the Southeastern Conference (SEC), some of the existing Big East football schools could be targeted to join the Big 12.

Marinatto said the Big East would not wait to see what happens with Missouri and the SEC, since "it may not be resolved for a while."

Tagged: Houston

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