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Big East back on life support, on verge of collapse

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As the conference expansion roulette wheel spun over the past couple of years, the Big East was declared all but dead only to bounce back from the brink.

This time around, though, there doesn’t appear any bounce left in the conference. is reporting that, barring an unexpected change of plans, the seven non-football members of the Big East will break away from that conference, while reports that it would be an upset if those schools — DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Villanova — remained as part of the Big East.  An official announcement on the future of the league is expected in the next 24-48 hours.

The seven basketball schools have the power and the votes to dissolve the conference, although it’s unclear at this point if that’s the tack the group will take.

New Big East commissioner Mike Aresco has been in involved in the discussions and is attempting to hold his conference together.  Aresco met with the presidents of those seven schools Sunday, and took part in a teleconference earlier today.

What happens to the Big East if the seven schools break away or even dissolve the conference is the great unknown, throwing the football futures of several programs into chaos and uncertainty.  Boise State, Houston, Memphis, SMU, San Diego State and UCF are slated to join the Big East in 2013, followed by Tulane and East Carolina in 2014, and Navy in 2015.  UConn — the only founding member of the conference that would be left in 2013 — Cincinnati, Temple and USF are the only current members with plans to remain in the Big East if it survives some way, shape or form.

Pittsburgh and Syracuse announced last year that they will be moving to the ACC in 2013, while Louisville (ACC) and Rutgers (Big Ten) announced earlier this year that they will be leaving the conference.

The biggest blow to the Big East is that the tumult and turmoil comes in the midst of negotiations on a new television contract.  From

If the seven basketball schools leave the Big East, it will be a crippling blow to the league’s media-rights negotiations. Last week projected the value of the Big East’s media-rights revenue between $60 million and $80 million.

An industry source thought the figure would be closer to $50 million, he told ESPN on Tuesday. The estimates reported by and ESPN both included the basketball schools as part of the package.

If the Big East loses the seven Catholic basketball schools, it would decrease the value of the league’s media rights by “15 to 20 percent,” an industry source said.

Such a development could prompt several new members, particularly Boise State and San Diego State, to reconsider their move.  Uncertainty on the part of the two schools and their move surfaced a couple months ago, with the Idaho Statesman confirming again today that the Mountain West would welcome them back with open arms.

Regardless of which direction the situation takes, there appears to be just one certainty — courts, and not the basketball kind.

“Lawyers are going to have to sort it all out,” a source told “I don’t think anybody knows exactly how this is going to happen. They just know it’s time to separate.”

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22 Responses to “Big East back on life support, on verge of collapse”
  1. fcmlefty1 says: Dec 13, 2012 2:10 PM

    Please read the above article about umbrella conferences, which I discovered via Bryan Fischer. I really think this could work in the case of the Big East.

    The “Big East” would be the main controlling unit. Under the umbrella would be 2 conferences, the “Big Priest”,which would be a non-football leagues and “Big America”, which would be an all-sports league.

    The “Big Priest” would be the following 10 schools: St Johns, Georgetown, DePaul, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, Villanova, UConn, Cincinnati and Temple.

    The all sports teams in “Big America” would be the following: USF, UCF, SMU, Houston, Memphis, Tulane and ECU.

    The Big America would also consist of some associate members, which would be football only members: Boise State, SDSU, Navy and one more team, most likely a western team.

    UConn, Cincinnati and Temple would also be considered associate members of the “Big America”, as the “Big Priest” doesn’t offer football. (And Villanova would continue their current set up as an FCS team also).

    All current NCAA basketball units and auto bid would go to the”Big Priest”. The “Big America” would have to start from scratch and apply for a bid to the tournament.

    The one big thing I see right away is that the “Big America” would probably need to find a couple of members that played everything except football – a 7 team basketball league would be tough to do.

    But other than that, I think this would actually be a decent compromise solution

  2. blitz4848 says: Dec 13, 2012 2:18 PM

    The Big Least—Who REALLY cares????

    Go AWAY…..Go AWAY Quickly

    Do not pass go and

    NEVER, EVER again collect a BCS bowl bid

    Thank You

  3. bricktop02 says: Dec 13, 2012 2:20 PM

    R.I.P. Big East…

  4. moagecu says: Dec 13, 2012 2:21 PM

    ECU is joining only for football

  5. fcmlefty1 says: Dec 13, 2012 2:34 PM

    “ECU is joining only for football” – they’d say yes to a full invite before Aresco could even finish the first sentence of his invitation speech.

  6. 8to80texansblog says: Dec 13, 2012 2:50 PM

    The ten team Big 12 needs to get off there high horse and let SWC member UH back in. I know when the SWC broke up Texas wanted to do everything they could to get the little upstart that kept kicking their azz out of the conference, but punishment served.

    Big 12 has to expand sooner or later, UH is right in the thick of Big 12 country, they are building a new stadium in the off season, and last year, they showed they can be competitive.

    Problem is Big Daddy DeLoss up in Austin doesn’t want to share recruits, thinks he already owns the Houston TV market so UH doesn’t add any eyeballs, and doesn’t want another TCU on his hands.

    But think of it this way DeLoss, would you rather take Boise St… and really risk becoming, not second place, but 3rd place in your own conference? (And yes, bonghorns, you are the second best team in the conference behind OU)

    UH is a perfect fit I think. Liek Texas Tech, happy to be a middle of the raod team in a major conference and might sneak up every 10 years or so.

  7. fcmlefty1 says: Dec 13, 2012 2:56 PM

    @8to8texansblog – couldn’t you make nearly that same argument for SMU too? As casual fan guy, I’d love to see both of those schools get to go “home”. I understand the reasons it won’t happen though.

  8. mdac1012 says: Dec 13, 2012 3:53 PM

    Yugoslavia was a more stable and united place than the Big East. The BE voting down that $120 million dollar TV deal last year essentially killed it.

  9. beavertonsteve says: Dec 13, 2012 4:02 PM

    In the end this is all about money and even the basketball only schools will make way more money sticking with their Big East TV deal over going to the A10 or forming their own basketball only conference. That’s not even including the massive amount of cash they will lose out on from losing the exit fees that teams leaving the Big East are paying.

    I think all this grumbling is just posturing to get some kind of bone thrown to the Catholic basketball schools to make up for having to replace Louisville with Tulane on their schedules. Eventually the Big East will vote to send some extra cash their way to keep them around.

  10. fcmlefty1 says: Dec 13, 2012 4:14 PM

    I’ve been thinking more about this whole thing, and I keep coming back to the same question: Would UConn, Cincy and Temple be better off sticking with the catholic schools (well, Temple might have to stay in the A-10 instead) for Basketball and applying to be football only members of the MAC, much like Temple used to be and UMass is now?

  11. deadeye says: Dec 13, 2012 4:39 PM

    ESPN is finally killing off the conference who didn’t play ball with them.

  12. mydixienormus says: Dec 13, 2012 4:48 PM


  13. timh1955 says: Dec 13, 2012 6:45 PM

    When the Big East started taking schools with very small and meaningless football programs like Boise State, Houston, Memphis, SMU, San Diego State, UCF ,Tulane, East Carolina and Navy from all over the country it was obvious they were desperate and would take anyone. They were a good basketball conference but now they have killed that too. The Big East never should have been a AQ conference in the first place as all the other BCS conferences are so much better.

  14. timh1955 says: Dec 13, 2012 6:48 PM

    Boise State should go back to the WAC or MWC and quit changing conferences every few seasons. They aren’t going to get in a good conference so just get over it and stay put.

  15. thefiesty1 says: Dec 13, 2012 7:30 PM

    This conference has been dead for a few years now. It has basically been a BB conference anyway. With this bunch leaving it won’t even be that. Stick a fork in em.

  16. dmcgrann says: Dec 13, 2012 7:32 PM

    timh1955 said: “.. The Big East never should have been a AQ conference in the first place as all the other BCS conferences are so much better.”

    I don’t know about that. The Big East put three teams in the BCS Championship game during the first five years of the BCS. During that same time period the SEC put one team in the BCS Championship game. Now, today, you’re probably right, but to say that the Big East should have never been considered as an AQ from the beginning of the BCS isn’t necessarily true.

    No doubt lawyers are going to be heavily involved. The potential ramifications if the seven schools simply vote to dissolve the conference are pretty mind-bending. Would that mean that Rutgers would be completely off the hook for any exit fee? What about damages suffered by the teams scheduled to join the Big East? How does the money get split up?

    Where do the seven “basketball schools” go? The A-10 would take them, but that’s probably not as lucrative as forming a new conference and picking up some A-10 schools. If that happens, who gets invited to the new basketball party? Some folks are going to be left out.

  17. pastabelly says: Dec 13, 2012 8:45 PM

    The basketball schools ruined the conference in the first place when they blocked Penn State. They bullied the football schools until Miami, BC, and Syracuse got pissed off and decided to leave. The ACC replaced Syracuse with VA Tech and BC wait. But this was all because of the basketball (Catholic) schools exerting control over the conference.

  18. timh1955 says: Dec 13, 2012 8:55 PM


    Those two teams (Miami and Virginia Tech) were in the BCS NC but only Miami won and that was 10 years ago and neither team is in the conference any longer. I still don’t think they should have been an AQ conference back then and especially now. They are no better that the WAC or MWC and maybe even worse.

    There will be a lot of legal issues when they finally do collapse. They have been a great basketball conference but they suck in regards to football.

  19. lbijake says: Dec 13, 2012 9:28 PM

    For the b-ball schools, it is now or never. It is more about control than money, but money will definitely come into play. Once all the new f-ball schools enter the league, b-ball schools will have no voice in any matter. B-ball schools can make more money, and spend less on travel, in their new league. Tenative name of the new league is “Not The Big East”.

  20. amosalanzostagg says: Dec 13, 2012 11:16 PM

    LMAO, SMU and U of H back in the SWC?

    Don’t get me wrong, both are great schools with budding athletic programs, They deserve to be an BCS conference.

    The problem is, and always has been Texas. They were instrumental in blowing up the old SWC for greener pastures and more $ with the Big 12. Now slots at the super conferences are filling fast and the quality “peer” huge institutions aren’t clamoring to join Texas and the Big 12 is about to become irrelevant on a national scale.

    TV dollars are driving this frenzy and should U Conn go to the ACC making the first 16 team super conference, expect the B1G to have their search committee look for two more schools and the SEC extend exclusive invites to the two school that are on their short list. (Texas isn’t one of them.)

    That leaves the PAC-12 with four slots, and yes, Virginia, the PAC-12 has their eyes on four schools not named Texas.

    Enjoy college sports today because these are the good old days,

  21. frug says: Dec 13, 2012 11:26 PM

    SWC, WAC, CUSA, MWC, Big East.

    Every conference TCU joins collapses.

    Big XII you are on notice.

  22. timh1955 says: Dec 14, 2012 7:49 AM


    Same thing for all the conferences Boise State plays in.

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