UPDATE (February 28, 2012): A report suggests that Temple board members could be meeting to accept an invitation to the Big East on Wednesday, February 29 [link].
By all accounts, it appears that the Big East will at some point extend a formal invitation to Temple to join as a full-league member within the next month. Adding Temple would help to keep the conference as even as possible, filling West Virginia’s vacancy for 2012 with Boise State unable to leave the Mountain West Conference a year early.
If Temple has an option to bolt for the Big East, with a possible shot at an automatic BCS bid reason to salivate, then there is likely nothing that will stop the Owls from making the move as quickly as possible. On Friday Keith Pompey, Temple beat reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, suggested that Temple could leave the MAC quickly, where the school is currently associated as a football-only member.
“If West Virginia can figure out a way to get out of the Big East, what makes you think Temple can’t get out of the MAC?” a source said to Pompey on Thursday.
As far as money is concerned, Temple would need to pay a $2.5 million exit fee to the MAC, but that is for a two-year advance warning. Temple would very likely need to pay a higher exit fee, which may or may not be aided by the Big East. It might be in the best interest of the Big East and remaining Big East members to find a way to help Temple pay its way out of the MAC, for a potential legal threat from the MAC. Would it be somewhat hypocritical of the Big East, who was prepared to take West Virginia to court over their exit for the Big 12? Of course, but then again this is how realignment works sometimes.
Temple is a league member in the Atlantic 10 in other sports, including basketball. According to league bylaws, there is a $2 million exit fee with one-year notice, according to Pompey. Like the exit from the MAC, there would likely be little to prevent Temple from getting out of the Atlantic 10 if and when a Big East invitation comes along.
Right from the start, Temple would need to be prepared to pay $4.5 to the MAC and Atlantic 10, and the prices would likely be higher to avoid the waiting period before leaving each conference respectively. Consider that the Big East is accepting a $20 million payment from West Virginia in order to leave for the Big 12, and there would seem to be plenty of resources to work around the conference bylaws when it comes to Temple.
This is still going to be a very careful and respectful transition, if Big East commissioner John Marinatto’s word holds true. Marinatto has said previously that when it comes to realignment and expansion that the Big East would attempt to be as respectful of other conferences as possible, in hopes that the Big East would be as informed and informative as possible when preparing to invite potential members.
A lot goes in to inviting a school to a conference, including drafting and accepting a contract and working out the necessary payments. Marinatto has said before that the Big East would not offer an invitation if they did not feel confident they would be accepted.
It should only be a matter of time before the Big East is ready to make that next step with Temple. It could be within 24 hours, or it could be within a matter of weeks.
Kevin is a national college football writer for modenook.com and the host of the No 2-Minute Warning podcast. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow Kevin: Twitter | Facebook | Google+