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University Beat

Big East's Future May Include 12th Team, Multiple TV Networks

basketball.jpg
USF Athletics
Bulls guard Anthony Collins (11)

If Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco has his way, the Big East Conference will pick up a 12th team, sign a TV rights package that includes multiple networks, and keep its name.

ESPN.com reports that Aresco said on Monday that, in light of recent defections, the conference no longer wants to expand futher west than Texas -- but adding another team is likely.

"We probably at some point will add a 12th team," Aresco said. "We are going to have 11 when Navy comes in '15. We'll have 10 this year. There's no urgency, but we think we'll probably think about adding a 12th team."

Like most major collegiate sports conferences, the Big East has seen unprecedented changes in the last few years as member schools shuffle in and out -- some without ever playing a game.  Conference officials remain in talks with seven conference schools that announced plans to leave last December.

The seven schools -- DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John's and Villanova -- play all major sports except football, and want to form their own basketball-centered conference. The schools would also like to leave after one more season instead of two. Big East bylaws state schools would have to pay a $10 million exit fee if they leave before a mandatory 27-month waiting period.

Aresco added that the Big East schools that will remain, including USF, work well together due in part to being large research schools with similar goals.

"I do think as conferences consolidate, as they get bigger, I think they rethink what they are doing, and I think there will be a period of calm," he said. "It doesn't mean it's over."

As for TV, Aresco says a TV package is in the works, but nothing is finalized.

"We think we could end up doing a deal with multiple networks, we just don't know yet," he said.