Temple could leave the MAC quickly if it's invited to join the Big East

"The Big East needs Temple," a source said. (Tom Mihalek/AP file photo)

If Temple gets an invitation to play football in the Big East, the expectation is that the Owls will find a way to leave the Mid-American Conference before the start of the football season, according to league sources.

"If West Virginia can figure out a way to get out of the Big East, what makes you think Temple can't get out of the MAC?" a source said Thursday.

Discussions between the Big East and Temple regarding the Owls' joining the conference are hitting the final stages.

The MAC has a $2.5 million fee for an exit with two years' notice. So Temple would have to negotiate for an immediate exit similar to West Virginia's from the Big East.

The conference agreed to accept nearly $20 million from West Virginia so the school can join the Big 12 as a full member in July.

According to a source, as of Thursday afternoon the Big East had not called for a membership vote on Temple.

How much would the MAC make the Owls pay to speed up their exit?

A source said it doesn't matter.

"The Big East, I assume, will help them out," the source said. "They got $20 million from West Virginia's exit fee. The Big East needs Temple."

And it may need the Owls for football more than anything else. With West Virginia's departure, the Big East has only seven football teams in 2012. That's why it's important for the conference to add a football member as soon as possible.

If Temple does go for all sports, it could be next season, 2013, or 2014.

That's where the Atlantic Ten comes in.

Will the league try to keep the Owls from leaving? The league's exit fee reportedly is $2 million with one year's notice.

For now, there is very little word out of the league office.

"Temple is a valued member of the A-10," conference commissioner Bernadette McGlade said in a statement. "However, we are well aware that finding the right home for its FBS football program will drive its future membership decision for all sports.

"The Atlantic Ten is a large, strong league, and I will continue to work with our membership in the best interest of the conference."

But having Temple remain in the MAC and A-10 would be in the best interests of those conferences.

"Temple leaving would completely throw the schedule out of whack for the MAC," a source said. "I'm sure the league is not happy with that."

Assuming Temple stays, Massachusetts is set to become the 14th member of the MAC this season and be a football-only member.

The MAC, however, has an out clause that would let it drop the Minutemen after two seasons if Temple leaves for the Big East.


Contact staff writer Keith Pompey at 215-854-2939, kpompey@phillynews.com, or @pompeysgridlock on Twitter. Read his blog, "Owls Inq," at www.philly.com/owlsinq