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BIg East: Seven Catholic Basketball Schools May Leave

The Big East will no longer be the Big East if seven schools have their way. These seven schools are basketball only schools and include Marquette, DePaul, Georgetown, St. John’s, Providence, Villanova and Seton Hall. A number of reports said the seven plan to leave the Big East.

The Presidents of these seven schools, all Catholic, have a second conference call set up for Saturday, at which time they might make a declaration that they plan to leave.

All seven of the schools do not play football at the Division I-A level and their presidents participated in a conference call on Thursday with Mike Aresco, the commissioner of the Big East to give him the news. The call followed a meeting that was held with the commissioner and those same presidents in New York on Sunday.

On Thursday, Aresco took part in a conference call with the other schools’ athletic directors along with the new schools that will be joining the conference next year. Aresco, in the call on Thursday said he expected the seven Catholic schools to exit the Big East, but they are still weighing every option on what is the best way to do it. The commissioner also said to the athletic directors on his conference call that he still had not been told by any of the schools that they were officially leaving the conference.

Aresco has not lost hope that he will be able to keep the conference together. He is in the midst of negotiating a new contract for TV, including for football, but one that would make even the schools that only participate in basketball pleased. The hope would be to sign a contract where the schools would earn more from being in the conference than if they were on their own.

One major sports publication said it was not as much about the revenue as it was the schools do not feel the conference has the basketball schools best interests at the top of their list of priorities. Many of the schools just feel they do not fit into the same landscape as do schools that have dominant football programs.

If all seven of the schools remain together, they will be able to maintain an automatic berth, under the rules of the NCAA, for the NCAA tournament in March. The schools that remain in the Big East would also most likely maintain an automatic bid.

One source said that the schools could not dissolve the league, but would be able to leave as one group without having to pay any fees for exiting under a clause in the league that eliminates those fees for one collective departure. However, the group would have to give the full 27 months notice as a requirement in the Big East before leaving.

The reason the schools cannot dissolve the conference is the conference by-laws say that a minimum of two basketball and two football schools must vote to have the conference dissolved.

If the exodus is decided upon, there are a number of issues that have to be sorted out. For example, the exit fee interpretations, the waiting period for those who want to leave, who will get to use the Big East name and who will be able to play in Madison Square Garden for their tournament.

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