Bigger East?

At a meeting of the presidents and athletic directors of the league's member institutions in Philadelphia on Tuesday, the Big East Conference made the first significant step towards bringing the league from eight to 10 football members by unanimously approving "the process to evaluate the terms and conditions" for that expansion.

At that meeting, the results of what the league called "an extensive self-analysis and evaluation of the college athletics environment" were discussed.

That report led to further discussion on possible expansion of the Big East, a subject which has been discussed for several years in the hopes of increasing revenue and stabilizing a conference that has occasionally been on shaky footing.

While several of the non-football member schools have balked at talk of adding further programs to the league in the past, those institutions have apparently softened their stances.

In a statement, the Big East said its 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." A vote was taken to determine the evaluation method for possible candidates for expansion, and that vote passed unanimously.

"Today, our Board of Directors affirmed a set of key strategic initiatives, including expansion, designed to enhance membership stability and maximize our value," Big East commissioner John Marinatto said in a statement.

That was the only comment in the three-paragraph statement from the league, which ended with a notice that Marinatto and the rest of the Big East will add nothing further on the expansion process -- one it has hoped to keep under wraps for some time.

Past news reports have indicated that current Big East member Villanova could move up to the FBS level and join the league for football. TCU, far outside the traditional geographic footprint of the rest of the conference, has also reportedly been considered.

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