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Villanova puts off vote for Big East football entry

MORGANTOWN - Villanova decided Monday it won't vote today to decide whether it will accept the Big East Conference's longstanding offer to rise to the Football Bowl Subdivision and join the league as a football school.

Villanova plays the remainder of its varsity sports in the Big East.

The school's Board of Trustees was to meet today to vote, but that was delayed indefinitely when in an afternoon press release President Fr. Peter Donahue said "no formal action will be taken."

"We very recently learned that the Big East Conference needs more time to complete its due diligence regarding Villanova's potential football membership," Donahue said. "Without a clear and formal invitation from the Big East, we cannot proceed.

"We are now working with the Big East to provide whatever additional information and details we can. It is our hope that in the near future we will proceed with the Board of Trustees vote as planned."

Conference and university officials have operated under a gag order for months now and WVU athletic director Oliver Luck could not comment Monday. The indecision is the latest blip in the Big East's plan to add a 10th football member. Texas Christian University agreed in November to join the Big East as an all-sports member next year.

Villanova was invited earlier and seemed ready to return the Philadelphia market lost when Temple was kicked out in 2001. With strong indications suggesting Villanova would vote yes in today's meeting, the conference had a conference call with the rest of its membership Sunday to discuss Villanova's candidacy.

A conference source said some expressed reservations about the proposed football facility and Villanova's football finances.

Villanova was planning to use PPL Park, which houses the city's Major League Soccer franchise, the Philadelphia Union.  PPL Park can seat 18,500 and be renovated to accommodate about 30,000, provided the Union agreed to the expansion.

A source said it's unclear what Villanova can now do with only a few other options for a home stadium. Villanova will either have to convince skeptics its plan can work or find a new home.

"We will continue with our due diligence process and work with Villanova to continue to share relevant information and materials," Big East Commissioner John Marinatto said in a statement. "The Big East Conference obviously very much values its long-standing relationship with Villanova and we are committed to continuing to work with them on this matter in an open and forthright manner.

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.


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