Catholic 7 schools will keep Big East name, expect to begin new league this fall, sources tell @espn
— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) February 28, 2013
The Big East as the nation has come to know it over the last few decades is officially never going to be the same. The departures of a number of schools, such as West Virginia, Syracuse and Pitt, caused Boise State and San Diego State to balk at joining, choosing instead to stay in the Mountain West. TCU was also supposed to be a part of the fun, but instead joined the Big 12 upon receiving an invite.
From there, commissioner Mike Aresco brought in Tulane, Houston, SMU and UCF in all sports, and East Carolina in football only. None of those schools have anything near a respectable basketball program.
Obviously, the seven Catholic, basketball-only schools were beside themselves. Whereas over the previous few decades the Big East was the pinnacle of college basketball competition, the conference’s drive for football dollars left basketball more or less in ruins.
Thus, keeping with the trend of the last few years, the Catholic 7 voted to break away from the Big East — or shall we say, ‘Conference to be Named Later’.
Following the decision of the basketball-only programs (DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Villanova) to leave, the next issue became which group would be called the ‘Big East’ moving forward.
The fact of the matter is that no schools that are going to be playing football in the conference going forward have been there longer than nine years, and that includes UConn. All of the history of the conference has either departed to the Big Ten or ACC, or is only hitting the hardwood.
And so it is. The Catholic 7 is going to bring aboard Butler and Xavier next year and it will call itself the Big East. The seven schools in question and the Atlantic 10’s Butler and Xavier were all approached by Fox Sports to make the moves. The network is primed to give each school roughly $3 million annually for the rights to broadcast the new/old league’s basketball games. The annual TV dollars will help offset the $2 million exit fee Butler and Xavier will owe the A-10 for leaving.
The moves bring the Big East to nine highly respected basketball schools. Early reports are that Creighton is hoping to make the jump from mid-major to nationally televised program, bringing the league to an even 10, but that is not at all set in stone. Further, the league is going to add Dayton and St. Louis in 2014, bringing the Big East to 12 basketball-only programs (if Creighton is to join as well).
Now compare that to the league led by Aresco. As yet to be named, the conference will be comprised of these schools as of July 1, 2015: Central Florida, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Houston, Memphis, USF, SMU, Temple, Tulane.
Whatever that mish-mash of teams becomes, one thing is now certain — it needs a new name., and we only have one suggestion:
Combine with the Sun Belt (because at the moment, that is exactly how irrelevant a football-centric league with UCF and Tulane included is) and call yourselves the Sun Beast.