Big East Dismisses UCF, Memphis Expansion Report
"Those reports are not true," Marinatto (right) told FanHouse Thursday.
Orlando's WKMG sports director David Pingalore reported Wednesday night that "multiple college football sources" indicated UCF and Memphis could receive an invitation as early as next week. Pingalore reported the invitation is "highly likely."
Also, Wednesday afternoon, Tampa radio station WDAE 620-AM reported UCF would receive a Big East invitation.
"There is no truth to those reports," Big East associate commissioner John Paquette said.
In April, FanHouse reported that UCF had emerged as the Big East's top candidate, but only if the league lost a team to another conference. FanHouse reported Monday that the Big East was considering pursuing Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Iowa State if those teams had been left behind in the Big 12.
With the Big 12 staying together, that obviously will not happen, and the league membership will remain as is, unless it loses a team to another league, Big East sources told FanHouse.
Rutgers has been widely speculated as a possible candidate to leave for the Big Ten, but Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said his league, after adding Nebraska last week for the 2011 season, will stick to its 12-to-18 month timetable on expansion.
The possibility of conference expansion has been a white-hot topic of late.
Last week, CBSSports.com reported FedEx CEO Fred Smith had spoken to various conference officials and made it known that his Memphis-based company could provide up to $10 million annually if a BCS-affiliated league, such as the Big East, would invite Memphis.
FedEx later issued a statement that the report was "incorrect" and the company has "not had any discussions with BCS conference officials regarding conference realignment."
Even East Carolina athletic director Terry Holland, on the school's official website, gave his spin on what he believes the Big East will do regarding expansion. The Pirates have made it no secret they covet a Big East invitation.
"The Big East has been in a bunker mentality, hoping to keep enough of its eight current members to remain a viable FBS (formerly Division I-A) conference with automatic qualification for BCS bowl games," Holland wrote last Friday in "A Message To The Pirate Nation".
"Now that there is a possibility the Big East will not lose any current members, the Big East dilemma remains how to add football members when there is 'no room at the Inn' for other sports," Holland wrote. "The eight Big East FBS institutions are locked into a successful consortium with eight other institutions who do not play FBS football in the Big East.
"The Big East is wisely going to exhaust every possibility to solve their dilemma internally before addressing the complications created by adding 'football only' members or leaving their 16-team consortium to create a new conference. The 'internal' solution of choice is for Notre Dame to agree to move their football program into the Big East. As long as there is the slightest possibility this could happen, the Big East will not close the door on that possibility by adding someone else as the ninth member."
Holland added that: "It is my belief that most FBS institutions in the Big East would genuinely like to have a ninth FBS member, but at this time, a ninth member is not an absolute necessity. The desire for a ninth member is not enough of a necessity to disrupt their relationship with the seven non-FBS schools and Notre Dame in all other sports."
Besides the recent Orlando TV report about Big East expansion, Fox 13 Sports in Memphis reported in May 2008 "sources have confirmed that University of Memphis officials have been in serious talks with the Big East about joining the conference."
That report was also false.
Contact FanHouse senior reporter Brett McMurphy at email@example.com or please follow on Twitter @BrettmcmurphY