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April 19, 2010Louisville men's basketball coach Rick Pitino says UCF should be at the forefront of BIG EAST expansion candidates should the league lose one or more schools to the Big Ten.
Pitino made his remarks at a Monday press conference to announce Louisville-based 'Yum! Brands' secured naming rights to the Cardinals' new arena. The $238 million, 22,000-seat 'KFC Yum! Center' opens this November with a game against National Runner-Up Butler.
Midway through the press conference, Pitino was asked to share his thoughts about the possibility of the BIG EAST losing teams, perhaps Rutgers, Syracuse and Pittsburgh, to the Big Ten.
"I don't really believe (the reports)," Pitino said. "(UL Director of Athletics) Tom (Jurich) knows more about it than me, but I don't think Syracuse would budge out of the BIG EAST. Maybe Pittsburgh would, but I know their basketball people don't want that to happen. If they're going to expand I think they're probably going to make a run at Notre Dame or Missouri. Basketball, we don't get as concerned as football.
"We have to be pro-active and make sure we have three teams. It happened once before and the BIG EAST and they immediately had Louisville, South Florida (and Cincinnati). Right now we've got to be ready for Central Florida and to get two other programs into this equation."
On Sunday, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany met with several of his league presidents at the annual American Association of Universities (AAU) meeting in Washington D.C. to discuss expansion. Delany is then expected to inform other conference commissioners of their intent to target their members at the BCS meetings later this week in Phoenix.
If the Big Ten is to expand, many believe they would add three or five programs in order to have a 14 or 16-team league. Notre Dame, Missouri, Nebraska, Rutgers, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and even Texas have been mentioned as targets.