It is a simple mathematics game.
In the case of the Big East, negative-one plus positive-one is beginning to add up to something scary for the seven basketball-only members of the conference: Zero.
Acording to ajerseyguy.com, Marquette, St. John’s, Providence, Georgetown, Villanova, DePaul and Seton Hall all met in New York City to discuss their concerns over the departures of all-sports members Syracuse, Pitt, Louisville, Rutgers and Notre Dame (a Big East member in all sports but football, where they remain a steadfast independent).
Syracuse and Pitt are off to the ACC in 2013, with Notre Dame and Louisville set to join them in 2014. Rutgers is headed to the Big Ten in 2014.
The defections of these five schools come in the wake of losing West Virginia, who departed for the Big 12.
The ‘Catholic 7’, who stood idly by, reportedly believing their conference would come out of this mess somehow intact or at least still viable nationally, have finally begun to worry.
[Related >> We reported on the initial worries, as well as plans to dissolve the conference, here]
In terms of basketball competitiveness, adding Tulane seems to be the straw that may finally have broken the camel’s back.
“The basketball schools are not thrilled with Tulane and what they will do to the league’s RPI,” said a league source from a football-playing member. “They were not all that excited with that addition.”
The conference that was, until very recently, an absolute basketball force, is not simply worried about Tulane.
The basketball-only schools are also worried about the additions of full members Memphis, Temple, Central Florida, SMU and Houston, and football-only member East Carolina over the next two years. Besides Memphis, none of these schools will do anything to add to the prestige of the conference.
In fact, the same source added that “the basketball schools would have fallen off the ledge if we would have added East Carolina as a full member and what that would have done to the basketball league.”
Nor will the Pirates help add anything in terms of increasing everyone’s television revenue — and isn’t that what these types of meetings are always about?
According to ESPN:
Last week, CBSSports.com reported the Big East’s media rights deal is expected to bring between $60 million and $80 million, which would actually provide the basketball schools less revenue than the current deal. Based on those figures, the basketball schools would earn only $1.06 million (based on the $60 million estimate) or $1.41 million (based on the $80 million estimate). They currently annually receive $1.5 million from the league’s media rights deal.
No wonder Cincy and UConn made such a big push to earn the invite from the ACC that eventually went to Louisville.
“The league was not happy the way Cincinnati and UConn reacted to the news they were not selected by the ACC,” a Big East source said.
Back to the task at hand.
As of now, there are only three remaining all-sports schools in Cincinnati, UConn and South Florida.
With such a large majority, the Catholic 7 wanted to hold talks to see if, legally, they could dissolve the league and keep the rights to the brand name and assets.
The vote would have to be held quickly if it is going to be held at all. After all the other schools are officially made members of the Big East, the seven basketball schools will no longer enjoy their three-fourths majority.
If the schools do break away, one of two scenarios may unfold.
First, the Atlantic 10, a powerful basketball conference in its own right, may attempt to poach a few of the freely floating powerhouses to increase the RPI of its own league.
Second, and more along the lines of what the Catholic 7 are hoping to do, a few smaller basketball schools would join up with them to help form a new, basketball-only Big East. According to sources, names being thrown into the ring already are Dayton, St. Louis, Xavier and George Mason.
There are still a lot of things that need to happen before any moves by these seven basketball mainstays can actually happen. As quickly as conference realignment seems to take places these days, however, there is no telling exactly how fast the Catholic 7 may react to the conference’s foundations crumbling all around them.
What do you think, Gamedayr Nation? Should the Catholic 7 split off, dissolving the Big East in the process? Sound off in the comments below!
Quotes from ESPN were used in this report.
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