Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Big East to Expand, But Pitino Says Memphis Not Ready
The Big East Conference will “aggressively pursue [expansion] discussions,” but Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino says Memphis is not ready to join the league.
“Memphis, it’s a shame because their football program is so down right now,” Pitino told SNY.tv last week in an exclusive interview at Hudson Catholic High School. “I don’t know why it’s down, but it is down and that’s what probably’s taking away from it.”
The Memphis football team is 1-3, 0-1 in Conference USA after Saturday’s 38-31 loss to Middle Tennessee.
Memphis has made no secret of its desire to join a BCS conference. Tigers AD R.C. Johnsontold SNY.tv last year, “I don’t want to lie to you. In the ideal world, the SEC would call and we’d go tomorrow.”
Johnson did not respond last week to a message seeking an interview.
Meantime, the presidents and chancellors of the 14 remaining Big East members and TCU have authorized commissioner John Marinatto to “aggressively pursue discussions’’ with certain schools interested in joining the conference.
The league released a statement after yesterday’s meeting at Georgetown University. The meeting had been scheduled before Syracuse and Pittsburgh announced last month they will leave the Big East to join the ACC.
The original purpose of the meeting was to discuss the conference’s upcoming television rights negotiations, but the defections forced expansion onto the agenda. Navy, an independent, and Air Force, of the Mountain West Conference, are among the Big East’s top targets for football expansion.
Temple, booted from the Big East after the 2004 season, also could be invited back to the league, something that Pitino actively supports.
East Carolina announced it has applied for membership in the Big East, and Houston and Central Florida of Conference USA are also options.
Marinatto said that the league’s presidents discussed making leaving the conference tougher, without mentioning specifics such as raising exit fees.
Connecticut’s governor has already confirmed that UConn is interested in joining Pitt and Syracuse in the ACC, something that Pitino told SNY.tv was the “dumbest thing” he’s ever heard.
(The AP contributed)
**Pitino: UConn to ACC is ‘dumbest thing’ he’s ever heard
**Pitino wants Temple in the Big East
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.