Source: 2014 eyed for Big East split

Updated: February 9, 2013, 9:01 PM ET
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

The Big East is hoping to resolve its divorce with the seven departing Catholic-based basketball schools within the next few weeks -- in time for a summer 2014 departure -- according to a source who had detailed knowledge of Friday's conference call with the Big East.

The source said there seems to be a consensus the seven will leave and form their own league for fall 2014, exactly what the seven want as well, according to a number of sources from the departing seven.

The source said the conference call didn't focus on expansion but rather on the exit of the seven, as well as a new television contract. The Big East has a football contract for fall 2013 but nothing for men's basketball in 2013-14.

NBC Sports Network has verbally offered the Big East between $20 million to $23 million a year for six years to acquire the league's media rights, sources told ESPN's Brett McMurphy on Saturday. It is expected to submit an official offer next week. Once the Big East receives it, the league must give ESPN, the Big East' s current rights-holder, the opportunity to match the deal.

Meanwhile, the Catholic 7 schools are closing on a deal with Fox Sports, sources said.

The remaining Big East schools expect a legal battle with the departing schools for the Big East name, which carries with it branding rights and national recognition, the source with knowledge of Friday's conference call said.

The departing seven -- Georgetown, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John's, Marquette, DePaul and Villanova -- still must form a league. They also need to decide on a commissioner, bylaws, location, championships, compliance rules and how many schools they will add. The departing seven 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.

The remaining Big East schools in 2014-15 would consist of UConn, Cincinnati, South Florida, Memphis, Temple, SMU, Houston, Central Florida, Tulane and East Carolina for football, and then Navy in fall 2015.

Pitt and Syracuse are leaving the Big East for the ACC next season, and Louisville and Notre Dame are expected to join in fall 2014, while Rutgers is headed to the Big Ten at the same time.

If the Big East expands again, the two schools mentioned most by sources are UMass and Tulsa out of the A-10 and Conference USA, respectively.

Information from ESPN's Brett McMurphy was used in this report.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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