Big East schools gave a go-ahead Monday for the conference to expand to as many as 12 teams for football, a move that could involve adding six members.
The schools' presidents and chancellors gave approval for the league to talk with outside schools. The Big East said in a statement that it's "considering moving to a model that includes 12 football playing schools."
The Big East has been ravaged in the ongoing conference shuffles, losing longtime members. The move on Monday is the Big East's first formal attempt to make up for its losses.
Syracuse and Pittsburgh started the exodus by deciding to leave for the Atlantic Coast Conference. Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy has said UConn also is interested in the ACC, and there has been speculation that Rutgers, too, could leave the Big East.
The league thought it had strengthened its football status by adding Texas Christian. But TCU reversed course and was expected to formally accept an invitation to join the Big 12 later Monday. TCU would have to pay the Big East a $5 million fee to leave without ever playing a league game.
Without TCU, the Big East would be down to six football schools: West Virginia, Louisville, Cincinnati, South Florida, Rutgers and Connecticut. The league also includes DePaul, Marquette, St. John's, Seton Hall, Villanova, Georgetown, Providence and Notre Dame for sports other than football.
East Carolina has applied for membership to the Big East. Conference USA members Central Florida and Memphis also have been looking to join a conference with an automatic bid in the Bowl Championship Series.
Former Notre Dame head coach Ara Parseghian said over the weekend that Notre Dame could be forced to join a conference for football if the move toward a few super conferences continues.