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AP source: BYU, Big East end negotiations

By Ralph D. Russo

AP College Football Writer

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 05:51 a.m. HST, Nov 23, 2011


Brigham Young won't be part of the Big East's westward expansion.

Negotiations between the rebuilding conference and BYU have broken off, a person familiar with the talks told The Associated Press. The person spoke Tuesday on condition of anonymity because the conference and school have not been making their talks public.

"BYU to the Big East is dead. It's not going to happen," the person said.

BYU athletic department spokesman Brett Pyne said in an email that school officials declined a request for comment.

The Big East was trying to add BYU as part of its plan to become a 12-team football league.

The deal-breaker was television rights. The person says BYU wanted to retain the rights to its home football games and the league could not agree to that.

No other school in a major conference has such a deal.

BYU, based in Provo, Utah, left the Mountain West Conference after last season to become a football independent. The school entered its other sports in the West Coast Conference and struck an eight-year-deal with ESPN. BYU also has its own television network.

The Big 12 had courted BYU earlier this year when it was looking to replace Texas A&M and later Missouri, but working out a television agreement prevented a deal.

The Big East ultimately ran into the same problem as it tried to persuade the school to become a football-only member.

Big East Commissioner John Marinatto had been talking to BYU about joining the league for weeks. But the school's desire to retain the TV rights to its home games did not come up until late in the discussions, the person said.

Negotiations between the league and school ended in the last 48 hours, the person said.

The fruitless negotiations with BYU have held up the Big East's expansion plans. The conference for weeks has been courting Boise State, Air Force and Navy as football-only members, and Conference USA schools SMU, Houston and Central Florida to join in all sports.

Boise State and Air Force play in the MWC. Navy is a football independent.

The move west for the Big East was prompted by the announced departures of Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the Atlantic Coast Conference in September.

Then West Virginia announced late last month that it was ditching the Big East for the Big 12, leaving the Big East with five long-term football members and opening another spot. Adding BYU then became a priority.

Now that BYU is off the table, the Big East will move on to other schools.

Temple, which plays in the Mid-American Conference and was once in the Big East, has been trying to get back in. East Carolina, another C-USA school, publicly announced it had applied for membership, and C-USA rival Memphis has also been pushed by some in the Big East for its excellent basketball program, most notably Louisville coach Rick Pitino.

But Boise State, which is nearly 1,900 miles away from the closest current Big East member — Louisville — would prefer the Big East bulk up its new western division. Provo is 382 miles from Boise, Idaho.

CBSSports.com reported Tuesday that San Diego State of the Mountain West is the Big East's next western target.

San Diego State Athletic Director Jim Sterk told The San Diego Union-Tribune through a spokesman on Tuesday that there was nothing new regarding the Big East, but the school did have preliminary discussions with the conference several weeks ago.

The Big East has been trying to convince potential members that joining will lead to more television revenue, greater television exposure and access to an automatic BCS bid.

The Big East is one of six conferences with automatic qualifying status in the Bowl Championship Series through the 2013 season. But beyond that, there is no guarantee the conference will have an automatic BCS bid.

Even if the Big East can complete its expansion plans and bring in seven new schools, the new-look league might not debut until 2013. There are stumbling blocks that could prevent most of the potential new members from joining next year.

Marinatto has been adamant about making Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia honor the Big East's 27-month notification period, which would keep those schools in the conference until 2014.

West Virginia has sued the Big East in its effort to join the Big 12 by next football season. The Big East filed its own lawsuit to force West Virginia to stay.






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