Seven hoops schools officially breaking away from Big East

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And, just as officially, the remaining football members trudge off into the great unknown.

Following up on reports from earlier in the week, seven members of the Big East with non-FBS football programs — DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Villanova — announced Saturday that they have voted unanimously to withdraw from the conference.  The when is still to be determined, although it could happen as early as next season if an increased exit fee is negotiated.

While acknowledging the contributions the basketball schools made over the years, Big East commissioner Mike Aresco maintained a confident tone in his statement that the conference will be able to move forward.  Whether it’s a false confidence remains to be seen.

“The 13 members of the Conference are confident and united regarding our collective future,” the statement from the commissioner read. “We have a strong Conference with respected national universities, and are working together to forge the future.  We have a variety of options, and are looking forward with great partnership, collegiality and optimism.”

With the departures, the Big East will be left with 10 members in 2013; 12 in 2014; and 13 in 2015.

All-sports-wise in 2013, the Big East will consist of current members Cincinnati, Temple, UConn and USF along with incoming members Houston, Memphis, SMU and UCF.  Tulane will join as an all-sports member in 2014.  Boise State and San Diego State are slated to join as football-only members in 2013, followed by East Carolina in 2014 and Navy in 2015.

Whether the Big East remains a viable football conference beyond 2013 will likely be directly tied to television revenue.  The conference is currently in the midst of negotiations with various networks on a new TV deal, with the hope heading in of a deal that would pay $100 million annually or more.  Even prior to the seven basketball schools leaving, however, that projection had dropped to between $50-$80 million a year depending on the report.  One report figured the hoops members departing would decrease the value of a new TV deal by 15-20 percent.

Thus, each school could be looking at (very roughly) a low end of $3 million annually to around $6-7 million.

Would those numbers, or anywhere in between, be enough to keep Boise State and San Diego State from fleeing back to the Mountain West?  Seeing as they’re only earning around $1.6 million, it would still likely be worth their while even on the low end.

There’s also the very real possibility that the likes of Cincinnati and UConn, which both made a push to replace Maryland in the ACC before the spot went to current Big East member Louisville, could continue to push for future membership in that conference or even the Big Ten.

Regardless, the future of the conference remains extremely tenuous and immensely fragile — no matter how much public confidence the commissioner displays.

UPDATED 3:51 p.m. ET: UConn released a statement from president from Susan Herbst in the wake of the members’ departure.

“The tragedy that took place in Newtown on Friday should be the focus of the thoughts of the people in Connecticut and all Husky fans this weekend.

“The University of Connecticut believes that the BIG EAST Conference will continue to be a strong and exciting conference that is comprised of highly-regarded national universities.

“We ask our fans to steer all passion and concern to Newtown, and we will honor those lost when we gather together as a university community for events this upcoming week.”

Fans can legally pack concealed heat at Georgia football tailgates

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Guns and SEC football are back in the news yet again this offseason.  And this one has the ACC riding shotgun as well.

In late March, the state of Arkansas legislature passed a law (House Bill 1249) that would allow concealed-carry handguns on publicly-owned property, which would’ve include college sporting events.  A day later, and after realizing, amidst considerable controversy, the potential for alcohol-fueled fans attending an SEC football game armed, the state’s senate voted to amend the law to exclude college sporting events.

Fast-forward to this month, and the state of Georgia legislature has passed a law (House Bill 280) that would allow the carrying of concealed handguns on college campuses, with exceptions that include on-campus stadiums, arenas, gymnasiums and the like hosting intercollegiate sporting events.  That bill is scheduled to become law in the state July 1.

In clarifying the language of the law, the university confirmed in an extensive press release Wednesday that individuals with valid weapons licenses will be permitted to conceal-carry outside of college football stadiums.  In other words, licensed individuals would be permitted to carry concealed weapons outside of Sanford Stadium as well as Bobby Dodd Stadium as part of the game-day tailgating experience.

Only handguns are allowed under this law, and only when concealed.  Long guns, obviously, are not permitted under any circumstance.

“I understand that many of you have strong feelings about this bill,” UGA Chancellor Steve Wrigley began his letter to the university community. “Yet, whether you opposed or supported the legislation, it will soon be state law, and I respectfully ask everyone to exercise patience, understanding and respect as we implement it.

“We all share the same goal of ensuring a safe campus environment. We should work together to implement the law as written and thoughtfully address any complications that may arise.”

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey released a statement amidst the Arkansas gun-law controversy that may or may not have had an impact on that state’s legislature tweaking of the bill. It bears watching whether the commish follows a similar public tack when it comes to this piece of legislation.

The Georgia Bulldogs will open their 2017 season at home against Appalachian State Sept. 2, while Georgia Tech’s home opener is Sept. 9 against Jacksonville State.

Illinois boots three players charged with home invasion and robbery

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Illinois head coach Lovie Smith has dismissed three players charged with home invasion and robbery. Offensive linemen Darta Lee and Howard Watkins and tight end Zarrian Holcombe have all been dismissed from the program, according to a statement.

Lee and Holcombe were previously suspended by Smith for violations of team rules. Watkins had also been indefinitely suspended following the initial allegations. All three players claimed the incident that led to the charges was nothing more than an innocent prank, but the authorities and Smith didn’t seem willing to buy that claim.

Each player faces a mandatory prison sentence of 4-15 years on each count against them if found guilty.

Report: Conference USA to air at least 15 football games on Twitter in 2017

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Conference USA is in a position where it needs to think outside the box and look to stay ahead of the curve in a changing TV landscape. It appears to be ready to air games on Twitter in 2017.

A report from The Virginian-Pilot says broadcast company STADIUM will air at least 15 football games involving Conference USA teams this fall. STADIUM is the result of a recent merger between the American Sports Network, 120 Sports and Silver Chalice (which also owns Campus Insiders and the online ACC Digital Network). The ASN had owned the broadcast rights to Conference USA games through the end of the 2017-2018 sports season that will carry over to the STADIUM deal (allowing for Conference USA basketball games to be aired on Twitter as well). It was announced earlier this month STADIUM intended to broadcast Conference USA games on Twitter, but it was unknown how many games might make it to the networking service. STADIUM reportedly has an interest in continuing to air Conference USA contests beyond the next athletic season.

Conference USA still has broadcast deals with ESPN and CBS Sports in effect as well, so don’t expect the premiere matchups in the conference to be aired on Twitter. However, by sharing the games online, Conference USA is hoping to reach a wide-spread audience and have the opportunity to be a trending topic. It could work, as Twitter would make sure the game is given a steady feed to allow for a pleasant viewing experience and fan interaction in real time.

Conference USA saw TV revenue take a big hit over the last year. Last summer, Conference USA’s television revenue reportedly dropped to just $2.8 million for the entire conference following realignment changes. Finding a home on a streaming platform now would be key for the conference’s future stability.

Alabama DC Jeremy Pruitt named son after former Tide linebackers Reuben Foster and Ryan Anderson

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It is not at all uncommon for children born in the state of Alabama to be named after Alabama football legends, but it is not every day you see a child of an Alabama coach receives a name inspired by former Alabama football players.

Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt announced the birth of his new son, Flynt Anderson-Foster Pruitt, on Twitter. Alabama fans will likely already know the connection to the new child’s name, as used the last names of two former Alabama football players to create the middle name of Anderson-Foster; Ryan Anderson and Reuben Foster.

Maybe this is more common than I’m aware of, but regardless of how often a coach names a child after former players, this is a testament to the relationship the Pruitt family established with both former Alabama linebackers. And now there will be a bond for years to come between the coach and his family and Anderson and Foster.

Helmet sticker to Al.com.