TCU and Big East officials have discussed the Horned Frogs joining the conference, according to several sources close to the situation.
TCU has met with Big East officials within the past 30 days to discus the logistics of a move by TCU in either the 2011 or 2012 seasons, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
TCU Athletic director Chris Del Conte has been unavailable for comment while on business in New York and Philadelphia the past few days.
Del Conte, TCU’s sports information department said, was in Philadelphia for meetings about Mountain West Conference television contracts with MWC commissioner Craig Thompson.
TCU, which has played in the Mountain West Conference since 2005, would likely relish the idea of playing football in one of the six automatic qualifying conferences. Plus, with respected programs Utah and BYU leaving the MWC after this season, the prospects of the MWC gaining automatic status in the future has dimmed, despite the addition of third-ranked Boise State and No. 25 Nevada, along with Fresno State, joining the conference for the 2011 season.
One source said Villanova, which was invited to join the Big East in football several weeks ago but has yet to decide if it’s interested, is potentially a modifying factor regarding TCU joining the conference. It’s unclear whether a move by Villanova, which currently plays in the Football Championship Subdivision, to the Football Bowl Subdivision (previously known as Division I) Big East, would enhance or detract from TCU’s possible inclusion. Villanova already competes in the Big East in other sports, including the 16-team basketball conference and the 12-team baseball conference.
Del Conte said in a statement released Wednesday that “TCU is a proud member of the Mountain West Conference. During this period of an ever-changing landscape in collegiate athletics, there has been speculation on future conference affiliation for TCU. Our policy has always been and will remain to not respond to rumors. As part of serving our student-athletes and coaches, we can assure everyone that our No. 1 priority is to always protect TCU's best interests.”
TCU football coach Gary Patterson said after Wednesday’s practice he didn’t know anything about talks with the Big East, which was first reported by the New York Post Tuesday.
“We are in a situation that requires us to evaluate and analyze all our options including expansion and television,” one source told the Post. “There are a dozen or so schools that we’re looking at.”
Another source told the Star-Telegram that Del Conte is constantly in talks with representatives from different conferences and is constantly evaluating TCU’s best option moving forward.
“I don’t have an opinion right now,” Patterson said. “I’m trying to beat Colorado State.”
The fifth-ranked Horned Frogs (4-0) go out west to open MWC play at Colorado State at 1 p.m. Saturday.
-- Stefan Stevenson