Big East votes to extend invitation to UConn

UConn has taken another significant step toward rejoining the Big East Conference.

Big East presidents voted to extend an invitation to UConn during a conference call on Monday, according to CBS Sports Network.

A source confirmed the report, as did the Associated Press through its sources.

Now it's in the hands of the UConn Board of Trustees, which will discuss the matter during its regularly-scheduled meeting at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday in the North Reading Room of the Wilbur Cross Building on the Storrs campus.

If the Board of Trustees votes in favor of the conference change, as expected, the Big East is expected to make a formal announcement on Thursday in New York City.

A Big East spokesperson declined comment on Monday.

UConn would become the 11th member of the Big East, joining Villanova, Providence, St.  John's, Georgetown, Seton Hall, Xavier, Creighton, Marquette, DePaul and Butler. The Huskies were one of the founding members of the conference in 1979 before conference realignment forced them to their current home of the American Athletic Conference.

UConn expects to depart the AAC after the 2019-20 season and play a Big East schedule in every sport except football starting in 2020. One potential stumbling block, however, is the AAC bylaw which says schools must give 27 months' notice before leaving and pay a $10 million exit fee.

There were multiple reports on Monday saying the AAC would ask UConn to pay a higher exit fee for the right to leave early. The school would also have to pay a Big East entry fee, although not necessarily the entire amount up front.

The amount of the AAC exit fee is signficiant because UConn reported a $40 million athletic deficit earlier this year.

The football program faces an uncertain future with only two legitimate options — playing as an independent or joining another conference — if it intends to remain a viable FBS program.

The AAC isn't interested in adding UConn as a football-only member, according to a source. Should UConn decide that finding a new conference is the best option, the Mid-American Conference reportedly is interested in expanding from 12 for 14 schools.

The website TMG College Sports quoted a source saying the MAC would be open to adding UConn and UMass (currently an independent) to give it more exposure in the Northeast.

UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma, during his charity golf tournament in Hartford, told the Associated Press and other reporters that a return to the Big East will be different this time. Gone are Louisville, Notre Dame, Boston College and Pittsburgh.

"It's like saying you're moving back to your hometown, but the block that you lived on and half the city is gone," he said. "It's not the same."

g.keefe@theday.com

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