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Source: Catholic Schools Mulling Move to Big East

The Star-Ledger-US PRESSWIRE

The future for seven Catholic, non-Football Bowl Subdivision schools could be dramatically altered due to a vote that will decide if each program will join the Big East in the next few days, according to multiple sources.

The seven schools to make the leap into the bowl conference are DePaul, Marquette, Villanova, Georgetown, St. John’s and Seton Hall. They told sources that they are “close to a consensus on what they want to do next.”

While the presidents of each school are within days of a decision, the Catholic schools said they are still exploring all possibilities and don’t want to rule any other move out. The school presidents last met on Sunday in New York and discussed the move and better understand the other opportunities out there. One such move could be for the schools to join forces with Xavier, Saint Louis, Dayton, Creigton, Gonzaga and St. Mary’s to make a national Catholic conference.

If the teams were to swap conferences, the schools will be able to keep their automatic berth into the NCAA tournament, as per rule by the NCAA.

Due to this measure, it is increasingly more likely that the basketball schools (like Georgetown, Marquette and St. John’s) will break away from its football members. In which case, the rest of the members could dissolve the conference or leave the league as is. There needs to be a two-thirds majority of the vote by the members if this were to happen.

“I know this may seem like a tough moment for our fans, but we need to focus on the fundamentals of academic success across the university and in our athletic program as well,” University of Connecticut PResident Susan Herbst said through a statement.

In all likelihood, Louisville and Notre Dame (two Big East teams) will join Pittsburgh and Syracuse in the ACC in the 2014 season. As a result, the Big East would crumble and so would the lofty TV rights to the once-prominent conference, which were projected to boast between $60 million to $80 million in revenue next season. Now, the league’s media rights could decrease 15 to 20 percent, per a source close to the negotiations.

“The Big East that Marquette joined in 2005, boy, that’s a different looking animal going forward over the next couple of years,” Marquette athletic director Larry Williams said on 540 ESPN Milwaukee. “It’s prompted some deeper discussions (on) what futures are for schools such as Marquette, Georgetown and Villanova.”

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