After the ACC raid of the Big East in 2003 of Miami and Virginia Tech, the six-remaining football schools met to discuss options for the future of the conference. The minutes from the meeting leaked out a few years ago and the Big East has confirmed them. (I'm shocked that no one in the media has discussed these during all of the expansion talk)
- The Athletic Directors of the six-remaining football members agreed to a split between the football and basketball-only schools and expansion to an 8 or 9 team football conference.
- The Presidents appear to have gotten cold feet about abandoning the five basketball-onlies who would be left out in the cold without an NCAA auto-bid. Notre Dame also supported keeping the conference intact and kept the split vote at 6-6 without a majority.
- The Big East approached Notre Dame and Penn State about membership (SU Chancellor Shaw approached Father Harrington of ND and Graham Spanier of Penn State).
- Of the expansion candidates, everyone supported adding Louisville, was considering Cincinnati and Temple for all sports, and UCF, Army, and Navy for football only. Dismissed Memphis, Marshall, Southern Miss, ECU, UAB, and South Florida (Louisville would eventually get USF in).
- Syracuse AD Jake Crouthamel led off the meeting by saying that if the Big East went to the hybrid 16-team conference he would retire. Jake retired in 2005.
- Father Leahy (BC) indicates he "never felt the Big East had a commitment to excellence and, further it had difficulty in balancing football/basketball issues. If people within the room at some point feel uncomfortable about the direction of the league and, secondly, is presented with an attractive alternative, they would pay the $5M penalty and give the 27-month notice." BC left the Big East shortly thereafter.
The binding contract entered into by the football schools with each other with a penalty of $5 million and 27-month notice for leaving the conference... expires July 1st.
Big Ten and ACC raiding of the Big East may have yet to begin.