PHILADELPHIA -- The commissioner of the Big East Conference confirmed yesterday that officials from Villanova and Connecticut have explored the possibility of upgrading their football programs to Division I-A.
If the two schools decide to move up to major-college football, they eventually could join Syracuse, Pitt, Boston College and Miami -- plus possibly a new Big East member or two -- in allowing the basketball-oriented conference to take the major step of adding football.
"Villanova and Connecticut have told me that, as institutions, they've been looking into Division I-A football. They're just taking the first steps," Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese said.
Ted Aceto, the athletic director at Villanova, said yesterday that the school was "absolutely not" considering playing major-college football. He said any discussions related to such a move by Villanova were casual and unofficial.
Tranghese said Villanova and Connecticut would not have any impact on the conference's immediate plans regarding football.
"I've told them that I'm sure our other Division I-A football schools would offer them any advice and help they could, but right now we're certainly not predicating any conference arrangements on what Villanova and Connecticut might do."
William Flynn, the athletic director at Boston College, said yesterday that Aceto had called him recently for information related to a possible move to major-college status in football. Flynn said he was happy to hear about Villanova's interest in moving up to I-A.
"Until they dropped football [in 1980]," Flynn said, "they were our second-oldest rival. Of course, it wouldn't be easy. There's a lot involved. But Connecticut and Villanova playing football in the Big East? I think that would be great."
However, Aceto discounted the talks he has had about upgrading Villanova's football program.