Here's the press release:
PHILADELPHIA -- The BIG EAST Conference submitted the results of its extensive self-analysis and evaluation of the college athletics environment today at its annual Conference Board of Directors meeting. Based on those results, the BIG EAST presidents agreed that the interests of each of the conference's 16 member institutions would be served by increasing the number of Bowl Subdivision football-playing members to 10. They unanimously approved the process to evaluate the terms and conditions for potential expansion candidates.
"Today, our Board of Directors affirmed a set of key strategic initiatives, including expansion, designed to enhance membership stability and maximize our value," stated Commissioner John Marinatto.
Marinatto said the conference will refrain from commenting further on the expansion process.
The conference has already asked Villanova to move to D-1, so my immediate thought is that the league's current best-case-scenario (Notre Dame's not coming) is adding the Wildcats and TCU. In this situation it would be interesting to see whether or not the league would consider dropping a school in order to keep basketball at 16 teams. Get nervous Depaul.
If either or both of the teams in Plan A don't pan out, then you look to Memphis. After that it's the uninspiring Central Florida, East Carolina, Temple, Houston, whoever crowd.
If Villanova isn't one of the two teams added for football, then the smart money is on the basketball conference expanding to 18.