About 15 years ago, then Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese was working with the league’s presidents as they looked into expansion. The presidents directed him to approach Navy and Army about their interest in joining the league, which was formed in 1979 as a basketball league.
The discussions did not get very far, said Tranghese, who was the league’s commissioner from 1990-2009.
“I would describe those conversations as not very extensive,” Tranghese said. “It was clear to me there wasn’t a lot of interest [from the academies]. It never got very far. I was directed by the people in the league to at least look into it. I did it honestly in my heart knowing they weren’t interested, but times were different then.”
On Wednesday, I reported the league is considering Army and Navy as football members only and a college industry source told me he thinks the league will approach them first before pursuing other options.
Tranghese said he will not speculate on any future Big East expansion moves.
“I’m not there anymore,” he said. “If they truly want my opinion, I’d give it to them. I want them to succeed. When [former commissioner] Dave [Gavitt] left, he never gave his opinion [about future decisions] and neither am I.”
Tranghese said when he approached Army and Navy in the mid to late 1990s about the Big East, Army was not interested. Navy, though, considered it a little bit more.
Tranghese said if the academies would have been fully committed in joining back then, he’s not sure how far it would have proceeded.
“I really don’t know when push came to shove what they [the Big East presidents] would have done,” he said.
Tranghese said at the time there was an agreement with the league that if UConn and Villanova could abide by their standards, the schools could join as football members. UConn did so, but Villanova made the decision not to do so, Tranghese said.
Now 15 years later, Villanova is hoping to join the league as a football member.