After being raided by the ACC in 2005, and watching the Big XII be pillaged by the Big Ten and Pac-10 this past summer, the Big East is finally ready to go on the offensive to protect its conference integrity.
The presidents of the Big East schools have agreed to expand by two schools to reach ten members, reports ESPN.
League officials are focusing on TCU and the University of Central Florida as their top targets along with Villanova. The hope is to pull in schools for football-only, since the current basketball side of the conference already has 16 teams.
The Horned Frogs of TCU would add a football power to a conference that lost its major programs in Virginia Tech and Miami when the ACC expanded. Currently a member of the Mountain West conference, TCU might not be allowed to leave for football only, so that presents a possible sticking point in the plan.
Villanova was informed that they were being considered to join prior to Labor Day. The Wildcats currently play in the Colonial Athletic Association and won the national championship in the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2009.
"Our football evaluation is ongoing," Villanova AD Vince Nicastro said in an interview with The Associated Press. "We are moving forward as quickly as we can, but not at the expense of being absolutely thorough. We still don't have a specific decision date, but it is likely to be resolved some time during this academic year."
Long a basketball power, Nova made the Final Four in 2009 and has been a Big East member since 1980.
The Big East is currently the smallest major conference with eight teams, so expanding into a market like Texas would afford the schools an effort to pick up both major recruiting territory and television markets.