Despite a pledge by a Big East spokesman that the league will issue a statement of "substance" today regarding the formation of a football-only conference, Georgetown Athletic Director Frank Rienzo said last night that he would be "very surprised" if league officials had done anything more than continue to explore their options during a full day of meetings in Washington.

The athletic directors of four Big East schools -- Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Boston College and newest member Miami -- met with Commissioner Michael Tranghese at an undisclosed site in the District yesterday. Amid reports that the league was to vote on whether to establish an eight-team football league that also would include eastern independents (Virginia Tech, Temple, Rutgers and West Virginia), spokesman John Paquette said from Big East headquarters in Providence, R.I., that the conference will issue a statement today regarding the outcome of the meetings.

"I don't know that that's a done deal," Virginia Tech Athletic Director Dave Braine told the Associated Press. "They told us all along it would be the first part of the year before anything's final. We have been in touch with them. . . . We are very much interested in it."

Rienzo, who also serves as chairman of the Big East's executive committee, said the conference almost certainly will not make a decision regarding a football league until it holds its annual meetings in May. "I would be very surprised, shocked even" if today's announcement included anything more than a preliminary finding, he said.

"It's just not the way we do business. We have a subcommittee {on football} that has been meeting since Miami was admitted to the league, and this was one of those meetings. Any idea that the subcommittee would make an announcement separate of the rest of the conference is simply erroneous.

"The purpose {of the meeting} was to explore ideas. Our methodology is for subcommittees to do the work, subcommittees to come back and give a report and then for the conference as a whole to make a decision."

Neither Tranghese nor the athletic directors involved in yesterday's session -- Ed Bozik of Pittsburgh, Sam Jankovich of Miami, Jake Crouthamel of Syracuse and Bill Flynn of Boston College -- were available to comment.