Big questions on exits from Big East

December, 15, 2012
12/15/12
7:39
PM ET
The seven Catholic, basketball-focused schools leaving the Big East won’t be able to get out until June 30, 2015, according to the conference.

They’ll need the time. There is a slew of work to do and questions that may take at least two years to figure out before an official split can occur.

No one associated with Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette, Seton Hall, St. John’s, DePaul and Providence wanted to get into specifics Saturday. The reason is that they don’t have the answers.

By leaving the Big East, the seven schools are forming a new conference. In a similar situation, eight schools split from the 16-team WAC in 1998 and became the Mountain West. They didn’t want the WAC name or brand. Now the Catholic 7 must determine how important the Big East name and brand is as they move forward.

At least one source said Saturday that the departing schools may try to fight for the Big East name since they include more original members -- four -- than the remaining Big East -- one in UConn.

But that isn’t a fight worth having. The best move would be to start fresh with a new identity.

Seven schools are enough to secure an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament but not enough for a conference. They would have to move quickly on expansion so that everything would be in sync for 2015.

A number of sources said the new conference would probably like to get to the ideal basketball number of 10. With 10 teams, as the Big 12 is finding out, a conference can have a true round-robin schedule with every team playing each team twice.

Scheduling would also be easier if the new league added schools that play on campus. The seven departing schools play at or use pro arenas, making scheduling a nightmare unless there are some campus facilities for flexibility.

The seven schools will have to determine if they want to add only Catholic-based schools or if they are open to other universities that focus on basketball, such as Butler or VCU.

Then there’s the task of negotiating a television deal. That will be critical in trying to lure teams out of the A-10, where there are a plethora of candidates, or possibly the MVC or WCC if the seven schools want to go national. The A-10 is working behind the scenes to ensure its schools stay put. Xavier athletic director Mike Bobinski said the Musketeers are committed to the A-10. But a recruiting tussle could occur as Xavier decides if it should stay where it is or latch on to more like-minded institutions.

The seven will likely forfeit any previous NCAA tournament unit revenue as well as money coming to the Big East from exit fees from Louisville, Pitt, Syracuse, West Virginia, Notre Dame and Rutgers.

They could fight that in court, but a compromise could be to not seek these funds for exchange for not paying an exit fee.

The departing seven will certainly approach Madison Square Garden to house their conference tournament in 2016. MSG has signed up with the Big East for another five years, but a source said the arena can adjust as conference memberships change. It’s hard to see how MSG would want the old Big East in the building when the only local school would be UConn. It is in MSG’s best interest to keep a tie with its primary college basketball tenant (St. John’s) and its brand names (Georgetown and Villanova).

The Big East will have to decide if it will add one more school for all sports. The league will be at nine for basketball in 2015 -- UConn, Cincinnati, South Florida, Memphis, Central Florida, SMU, Houston, Tulane and Temple -- and 13 for football with the addition of football-only members San Diego State, Boise State, East Carolina and Navy.

If the Big East is looking to add one more team for all sports, it makes sense to pick up UMass out of the A-10 since the Minutemen have upgraded football and would fit in the footprint. UConn and Cincinnati haven’t hid their desire to go to the ACC, but the ACC won’t add, according to sources, unless there is another major move by the Big Ten or SEC that could include poaching ACC members.

Unless Notre Dame can get out early to the ACC, this is how the conference will look in 2013-14:

UConn
Cincinnati
South Florida
Louisville
Rutgers
Notre Dame
Memphis
Temple
SMU
Central Florida
Houston
Villanova
Georgetown
Seton Hall
Providence
St. John’s
Marquette
DePaul
Football-only members: Boise State and San Diego State

This would be the lineup for the Big East in 2014-15 once Louisville and Notre Dame go to the ACC and Rutgers heads to the Big Ten:

UConn
Cincinnati
South Florida
Memphis
Temple
Houston
SMU
Central Florida
Villanova
Georgetown
Seton Hall
Providence
St. John’s
Marquette
DePaul
Tulane
Football-only members: San Diego State, Boise State and East Carolina

And the Big East in 2015-16 when the seven split off to form a new league:

UConn
Cincinnati
South Florida
Memphis
Tulane
Temple
Houston
SMU
Central Florida
Football-only members: San Diego State, Boise State, East Carolina and Navy

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
Tags:

Big East

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?

BIG EAST TEAM COVERAGE