Big East eyes split with ‘Catholic 7′ before 2014 season
Providence, RI, United States (4E Sports) – The Big East is hoping that the divorce between seven Catholic-based basketball schools will happen in the next few weeks in order to have a smooth start for the 2014 season.
A source with detailed knowledge of Friday’s conference call with the Big East, said the remaining teams believe that the seven will leave and form their own league for the fall of 2014.
The seven schools — Georgetown, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Marquette, DePaul and Villanova – were reportedly planning to form their own conference.
Aside from the exit of the seven schools, the conference call focused on a new television contract. The Big East has a football contract for fall 2013 but nothing for men’s basketball in 2013-14.
The source added that ESPN has the right of first refusal, but NBC Sports has been the most aggressive to secure the deal.
The remaining Big East teams also expect a legal battle with the departing schools for the Big East name, which carries with it branding rights and national recognition.
The seven departing teams are yet to form their own league and must decide on a commissioner, bylaws, location, championships, compliance rules and how many schools they will add.
They are expected to initially target Butler and Xavier out of the Atlantic 10, and possibly grow to 10 or 12 teams with candidates among Creighton, Dayton, Saint Louis, Richmond and VCU.
Even with the departure of seven schools, the Big East still has UConn, Cincinnati, South Florida, Memphis, Temple, SMU, Houston, Central Florida, Tulane and East Carolina for football in 2014 and then Navy in fall 2015.
Pitt and Syracuse are leaving the Big East for the ACC next season while Louisville and Notre Dame are expected to join in fall 2014. Rutgers, for its part, is headed to the Big Ten at the same time.
If the Big East expands again, it is expected to take in UMass and Tulsa out of the A-10 and Conference USA, respectively.