With conference realignment sweeping the country, Marinatto still was able to convince TCU in November of 2010 to join the Big East, to help bolster an inconsistent football league. People mocked a Texas team joining the Big East, but it gave the league a solid football addition. That would have given the Big East nine football members in 2012. There was even speculation the Big East might be able to attract an ACC school to join the Big East, which was in the midst of negotiating a huge upcoming media rights deal.
"At that point when the Big East was intact, the only school the Big East could have legitimately added that made sense was UCF," an industry source said. "Maryland and Boston College? They wouldn't even return the Big East's calls. But the Big East couldn't add UCF because [South Florida president] Judy Genshaft kept shooting down UCF."
Genshaft's continuing insistence to block UCF from the league was a huge contributing factor which ultimately led to the league's current instability, a league source said. That's because in April of 2011, with TCU on board, Marinatto and the league negotiated a nine-year deal worth $1.4 billion for its new media rights deal. Marinatto recommended to his presidents that they accept the offer and they promptly voted against it.
"I think that was the stupidest decision ever made [to turn it down] in college athletics," a league source said. "To have the equity of ESPN as your brand and the stability that would have gone with it."
Five months after the league's presidents turned down $1.4 billion on the night of Sept. 16, 2011, I reported that Syracuse and Pittsburgh were leaving the Big East for the ACC.
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