The Big East has reportedly reached out to Houston and SMU about joining the conference,’s Brett McMurphy reports.

Big East commissioner John Marinatto held a teleconference Tuesday and said preliminary discussions have taken place with several schools. Boise State, Navy, Air Force, UCF, Houston and SMU are believed to be in that group.

Since Pitt, Syracuse and TCU chose to leave the Big East, it has been scrambling to assemble new membership to preserve the conference. Houston and SMU would replace the void left by TCU, which was set to join the Big East in 2012 and provide a valuable Texas market.

The conference raised its exit fee from $5 million to $10 million Monday night in another move aimed at preserving the conference. Marinatto said he’s confident the Big East will remain an automatic qualifier for the BCS when everything’s said and done.

“Stay tuned,” he said. “We’re not rushing ourselves to meet anyone’s deadline. The sooner, the better.”

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