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Big East increases exit fee to $10 million

West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith drops back to

West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith drops back to pass against LSU during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011 in Morgantown, W.Va. (AP Photo/Jeff Gentner) (Credit: AP Photo/Jeff Gentner)

Commissioner John Marinatto confirmed that the Big East agreed on Monday night to increase the exit fee for schools leaving the conference from $5 million to $10 million as part of its realignment plan.

The increased exit fee is based on the conference’s execution of its football expansion plan, which includes a model for 12 schools.

Marinatto said the conference’s 14 members voted unanimously to increase the fee. Pittsburgh and Syracuse, which are both heading to the ACC, were excluded.

“This development is a significant step forward, as well as a positive demonstration and acknowledgement of the continued benefits of being in the Big East Conference,” said Marinatto, who made his comments and addressed a variety of other topics during a conference call with reporters on Tuesday afternoon.

“It sends a message to those institutions we are talking to about joining us.”

The Big East remains unanimous with its model for 12 football schools, Marinatto said. Interestingly, Marinatto mentioned later in the call that if the Big East were to expand to 12 schools, the conference wants to have a championship game in New York City.

Marinatto declined to reveal which schools the Big East is talking to about joining. He did reveal that the conference has not extended any invites. A Houston Chronicle report Monday night said that Houston had received an invite after the Big East concluded the meeting to increase the exit fee.

Marinatto did say that the Big East is considering television markets, philosophy and academic profile in regards to expansion candidates.

"There will always be quality institutions that want to align themselves with us as we reposition ourselves for our upcoming television negotiations 11 months from now,” Marinatto said.

The Big East is looking for some stability after a very turbulent stretch. Pittsburgh and Syracuse – both longtime members – announced weeks ago that they would be leaving the Big East for the ACC. TCU was set to join the Big East in July, but reneged on that agreement and instead will be a member of the Big 12.

The decision to increase the exit fee appears to be a signal that the six remaining football schools are committed to saving the conference.

Marinatto said Pittsburgh and Syracuse are not excused from the 27-month waiting period to leave if the Big East expands to 12 football schools.

There is no timetable for the Big East to expand, Marinatto said.

“Stay tuned, we're working diligently," he said. "We have a lot to offer and we're going to get this done right. Having said all of that, my hope is that once this landscape is resolved, the better it is for all of us, so the sooner the better.”

The Big East’s automatic qualifying bid for the BCS expires after the 2013 season. That bid could be in jeopardy depending on the quality of football programs that are added.

“It's our commitment to meet the standards moving forward to maintain our BCS [bid] ... We have the same assurance that any other conference in the country has today,” Marinatto said.

Other highlights from the conference call:

-- Marinatto said Notre Dame remains committed to the Big East and is working hard to keep the conference together.

-- Marinatto said the recent merger of Conference USA and the Mountain West hasn’t had any impact on what the Big East is doing.

-- Marinatto said that the basketball schools have been supportive of the football schools and want to keep the conference together. Marinatto added that there have been no discussions about dissolving the football side of the Big East.

-- Marinatto said the Big East has no concerns about going outside its geographic area to add schools.

-- Marinatto said the Big East is not putting its plans on hold while the Missouri situation is resolved. Missouri must decide whether or not it will join the SEC.

Tags: Big East , John Marinatto , Pittsburgh , Syracuse , ACC , Big 12 , Missouri , TCU , Notre Dame , Conference USA , Mountain West

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