PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco says he will talk to Navy about the possibility of joining the conference earlier than its scheduled 2015 arrival as a football-only member.
Aresco spoke to reporters before Connecticut played at Rutgers on Saturday.
The Big East is on target to become a 12-team football conference next season, with the addition of Boise State and five other schools.
The conference has made it clear that it will be in the market for a 14th member to balance out the league when Navy joins. Aresco says it should not be assumed the league will only add a school currently playing football as an independent.
He says there is no timetable for adding another member, and raised the possibility that Navy could join sooner, though he did say the school has given him no indication it is looking to do so.
"I'll talk to Navy about it," he said.
The Big East is halfway through an exclusive negotiating window with ESPN on a new television deal. The Big East's next TV deal is important to the conference's long-term viability. Other major football conferences have scored multibillion media contracts, and the Big East is hoping to at least be in the ballpark of those.
"As you know these things tend to heat up toward the end of the negotiating periods," Aresco said.
If the Big East does not strike a deal with ESPN, it will go to the open market. The conference at that point hopes to draw interest from NBC and its new NBC Sports Network, and possibly Fox, which is also looking into establishing a national all-sports network.
Aresco gave no updates on the proposed seventh marquee bowl game that would give the Big East greater access to the new postseason system that will start in 2014. Aresco said there is support for the addition of the game among the other conference commissioners and the game would be part of the playoff semifinal rotation.
The game as proposed would match the top-ranked champion from the Big East, Mountain West, Sun Belt, Conference USA and the Mid-American Conference against a team from the Pac-12 or the Big 12.
Aresco declined to address where the game might be played and when other details would be finalized.