As the Big East pursues a conference model that includes 12 football-playing schools, one obstacle that seems to be holding up the process is the league's exit fees. With an unknown future, the six remaining football schools have been noncommittal towards increasing the exit fees, which would make it more difficult to leave. At the same time, potential Big East targets such as Navy and Boise State would like to see some more commitment from the conference before joining.
According to a Sporting News report the conference has scheduled a call on Friday that would include a vote on "dramatically increasing the exit fee for universities wishing to leave for other conferences."
A source close to the league told Sporting News the meeting will ask schools to approve a change in the league bylaws that would require a school to pay three times its annual share of league television revenue in order to depart.The report also includes a detail that Louisville may decline to participate in the call. The Cardinals have been the most realistic defector of the remaining six, as they have targeted as a potential replacement for MIssouri should the Tigers leave the Big 12. Louisville's vote is not needed to issue a change in the withdrawal fees, Big East bylaws require just a 75 percent vote for approval.
Under the league’s current deal, that would raise the buyout to between $15-17 million. If the league were able to gain a TV contract even close to the one it recently declined from ESPN -- $1.4 billion over 9 years – that escape clause would become even more substantial.
Until the exit fees are raised, it will be near impossible to convince other schools to join arguably the most volatile conference in FBS play. However, the addition of the service academies would be a big step forward towards securing the league's future. Once you get the service academies you can start working towards bringing in programs that would help maintain the Big East's status as a BCS automatic qualifier.
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