Looks like 2015 would be earliest for Villanova football in Big East

Posted: May 12, 2011

The Villanova moving-up-to-the Big East for football situation, which was supposed to be resolved a month ago, remains officially on hold. No one seems to know exactly what's going to happen next, although well-placed sources on both sides seem to agree that nothing is likely to be resolved before June 1. That would mean the earliest the Wildcats could play football in the conference they call home for just about everything else would be 2015 instead of 2014, given the NCAA's mandatory 2-year transitionary period for going up a division to I-A (or Football Bowl Subdivision).

The next move belongs to the Big East. Villanova was ready to vote yes on April 12, and is still very much committed. The stadium capacity issue (Chester's PPL Park) is obviously the major stumbling block, at least on the surface. But the question also seems to be whether the football schools want to merely bring in a 10th team or expand to 12. Texas Christian was just added for all sports, starting in 2012. There's a sense that if the number only grows to 10, Villanova might not have the inside track over, say, Central Florida. Yet if it goes to a dozen, it's believed Villanova would become a much more viable option, given the size and appeal of the Philadelphia market. Houston and even East Carolina have been mentioned as possibilities. Then there's the dilemma of how this all impacts basketball, or whether football - where the real money and power lies - splits off on its own.

Villanova's president, the Rev. Peter Donohue, sent a letter to "alumni, parents and friends," updating them on where things stand. In it, he shared correspondence he had received from Big East commissioner John Marinatto: "Please know that [the conference] will continue to work closely with Villanova as we pursue our ongoing goal of ensuring long-term stability, strength and value through football expansion . . . which will require more time to finalize as we continue our evaluation of the evolving football and media landscapes. I appreciate the outstanding job Villanova has done in its [I-A] evaluations over the last nine months, and obviously continues to be an attractive candidate . . . I appreciate and understand your concerns and personally pledge to work diligently with you and your team as we move forward."

Donohue went on to write: "I know that many of you may be frustrated with the Big East's timeline. I share your feelings. As information becomes available, I will share it with you. Moving forward, I am committed to strengthening our impressive tradition and ensuring that it thrives to benefit Villanova for generations to come. This will be our shared legacy . . . Villanova will determine its own legacy."

So, as has become the battle cry, continue to stay tuned. For how much longer, maybe not even Marinatto could honestly guesstimate. You might have to grab a Snickers. *

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