With the Big East's seven non-football Catholic universities expected to formally announce their withdrawal from the league soon, Connecticut and Cincinnati are exploring options -- including forming a new transcontinental conference, according to a Sporting News report.
Sources close to the discussion told Sporting News on Friday that UConn and Cincinnati have discussed a cross-continent all-sports league involving some current Big East schools as well as prominent members of the Mountain West. The proposed conference would include UConn, Cincinnati, South Florida, Memphis, Temple, Boise State, San Diego State, UNLV, New Mexico and possibly BYU or Central Florida.
The report said NBC Sports Network would likely be approached to gauge its interest in such a media property.
If a "Transcontinental Conference" were to form, what would keep founders UConn and/or Cincinnati from leaving if the ACC comes calling? Schools in the new conference would have to make a serious financial commitment, such as the "grant of rights" Big 12 members made, signing over their media rights if they leave.
Mike DeCourcy of Sporting News writes word of UConn and Cincinnati being locked into a new conference alignment could provide enough leverage to push ACC schools such as Duke and Wake Forest into coaxing the conference to extend an invitation and increase its membership to 16 schools. Several ACC members, including Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech, have been rumored to be interested targets for richer conferences such as the Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC.