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PostSubject: Big East invites UH to join conference   Big East invites UH to join conference Icon_minitimeTue Oct 18, 2011 8:57 am

For the last 15 years, it was a wonder whether the University of Houston would have the chance to return to the big time in college athletics.

Since the Southwest Conference breakup in the mid-1990s, the athletics program has had its share of ups and downs and saw some dark days in that time span, but few days may be as bright as the ones that lie

Big East invites UH to join conference ?controllerName=image&action=get&id=1656541&width=628&height=471
UH's hope of joining an automatic-qualifying Bowl Championship Series conference may soon come to fruition after the Big East Conference extended an invitation to UH on Monday evening.

The league extended an invitation to UH after a conference call on expansion with the Big East's presidents and chancellors according to a person familiar with the Big East's expansion discussions.

UH chancellor Renu Khator and athletic director Mack Rhoades will head to New York later this week to meet with Big East officials. UH officials declined comment.

If UH makes the move and leaves Conference USA, it could take effect as early as the 2013 football season and it would be for all sports.

The Big East is in its 33rd year of existence. A move to the Big East would givecheap jerseys UH easier access to a BCS bowl bid, since the Big East's champion has

automatic-qualifying status until the current BCS contract expires in 2013. It would also mean higher-profile basketball games since the Big East is currently considered by many to be the country's best basketball


The league is looking to expand to 12 football-playing members. Pittsburgh and Syracuse's impending departure, which is scheduled for 2014, and TCU's brushback of the conference after accepting a Big East

invitation for 2012 then reneging and accepting an invitation to the Big 12 last week, hasnfl jerseys cheap left the league with just six long-term football-

playing members. The Big East is trying to keep its automatic-qualifying Bowl Championship Series status.

Monday's Big East conference call included a vote on increasing the penalty fee for exiting the conference to $10 million, a measure that passed unanimously. That doubles the original exit fee, which was

previously $5 million as specified by Big East bylaws.

The measure is intended as a sign of commitment by the current members of the Big East and was deemed necessary by the league to show stability to potential future members before moving forward with

expansion plans and issuing invitations to potential future members.

On Friday, a person familiar with the league's expansion discussions told the cheap nhl jerseysChronicle that, in addition to Houston, the Big East is

targeting Air Force, Boise State, Central Florida, Navy and SMU for the six spots it needs to fill. Air Force, Boise State and Navy would be invited as football-only members while Central Florida, UH and SMU

would be all-sports members in the conference.

UH is a charter member C-USA, which has been in existence since 1995. Houston joined the league in the fall of 1996 after the Southwest Conference broke up.

C-USA bylaws specify that a member institution must give the conference one calendar cheap jerseys from chinayear advance notice before withdrawing. According to

the bylaws, if one year notice is given, the withdrawal fee is $500,000 plus the total of any lost television rights fees for the affected institutions during a five-year period following the withdrawing school's


UH's recent on-field football success, home game football attendance and commitment to raise money for new facilities have all played roles in the school's attractiveness to the Big East, a person familiar with the

league's expansion discussions told the Chronicle last week. UH has cheap nfl jerseys currently raised $60 million

towards a $120 million football stadium project to replace Robertson Stadium and has plans for a $40 million renovation of Hofheinz Pavilion after that.

The Cougars have had at least 30,000 fans in the 32,000-seat Robertson Stadium for nine consecutive home games. For the 2010 season, it saw an 82 percent increase in football season ticket sales from 2009,

which was the largest such increase in the nation.

The football program has come far in the last decade. UH went 8-26 from 2000-2003, including an 0-11 season in 2001. Since then, UH has had five winning seasons, including four in the last five years and two-

10 win seasons while appearing in six bowl games during that span. This year's Cougars are 6-0 and ranked 21st in the Associated Press poll and 19th in the current BCS standings.

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