Big East, Big 12 talk merger if Texas, Oklahoma leave Big 12

CBSSports.com wire reports
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NEW YORK -- A person involved in the discussions tells the Associated Press that school and conference officials from the Big East and Big 12 have been discussing ways to merge what's left of the two leagues if Texas and Oklahoma leave the Big 12.

The person, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk publicly about what is going on behind the scenes, said Monday there has been dialogue between athletic directors and high-level officials in the conference offices.

"Those conversations are alive and ongoing," the person said.

Syracuse and Pittsburgh have announced they will be leaving the Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference.

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Texas and Oklahoma are both trying to decide whether to leave the Big 12 for the Pac-12, taking Oklahoma State and Texas Tech with them.

Both universities' board of regents voted Monday to give their presidents the right to choose a new conference, though the Texas regents still held the right to give a move final approval.

If the Big 12 loses those four members, it would leave Missouri, Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas and Kansas State scrambling.

Without Syracuse and Pittsburgh, the Big East still has six football members, Cincinnati, Connecticut, South Florida, Rutgers, Louisville and West Virginia. Plus TCU is slated to join in 2012, giving the Big East a presence in Big 12 country.

A union between the those schools could create one BCS automatic qualifying league, but there's no guarantee some of those schools won't also look elsewhere.

The Southeastern Conference has voted to accept Texas A&M as its 13th member and speculation has Missouri and West Virginia as candidates to become No. 14.

The ACC might not be done adding Big East teams. The conference reached 14 members with the recent additions and UConn and Rutgers would allow it to continue to expand its presence in the Northeast.

The Big East also has seven non-football members in St. John's, Providence, Marquette, Seton Hall, DePaul, Villanova and Georgetown, and Notre Dame - which competes in the Big East in everything but football.

Managing the agendas of the football and non-football schools has been an issue for Big East Commissioner John Marinatto, who is in his third year leading the conference.

Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe managed to keep the Big 12 together last year when Texas was considering a move to the then-Pac-10 that would have included Texas tech and the two Oklahoma schools.

But that might have only been a temporary reprieve for the league.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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