Big East officials meet to find possible replacement for TCU

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TCU’s recent decision to engage in talks with the Big 12 Conference has left Big East officials scrambling to find a replacement should the University choose to leave.

Big East leaders met for a second time in five days Friday morning to discuss the future of the conference as well as search for a replacement for TCU’s possible defection to the Big 12.

Navy, Air Force and East Carolina are among the conference’s top targets, the New York Times’ Pete Thamel reported Friday.

Big East spokesman John Paquette declined to comment on TCU’s possible defection, but Friday marked the end of a whirlwind week for the Big East, one that began with stability and ended with its premier addition being courted by another conference.

Big East presidents, and TCU Chancellor Victor Boschini, met Sunday in Washington D.C. to discuss the future of the conference.

After the meeting, Big East Commissioner John Marinatto was confident of the conference’s future, saying all current football-playing schools were committed to stabilizing and expanding the Big East.

“Overall I thought that the tone of the meeting was very positive,” Marinatto told the Washington Post Sunday. “Our schools for the first time were able to come together. The shock has worn off in terms of what happened two weeks ago today, and people are in a better frame of mind of looking forward as opposed to obviously dealing with the situation we dealt with two Sundays ago.”

Boschini seemed to be on the same page as Marinatto.

“We are looking forward to joining the Big East in July of 2012,” Boschini wrote in an email Monday. “To date, I can say that no other conference has asked us to consider membership.”

But that was before news of the Big 12’s offer broke.

According to a statement issued by the conference, the Big 12 Board of Directors voted unanimously Thursday morning to extend an invite to TCU.

The University of Missouri, who’s governing board decided Tuesday night to explore other conference options, did not participate in the vote, the statement said. If Missouri leaves, it would be the Big 12’s fourth defection in the past 15 months.

Texas A&M announced its decision to leave for the SEC two weeks ago and the University of Nebraska and the University of Colorado split for other conferences last summer – Nebraska to the Big 10 and Colorado to the Pacific 10.

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