In December, seven Big East basketball schools – DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall, and Villanova – announced they had voted to unanimously withdraw from the conference amid uncertainty over the future of the league in this day and age of realignment.
Those seven schools will be taking the Big East name with them when they start their new league next basketball season, according to a report from ESPN.com. Expected to join the new Big East will be Xavier and Butler from the Atlantic 10, per the report. The exact cost of keeping the Big East name isn’t known yet.
That means Big East football members will no longer be “Big East” football members, but the conference’s AQ status in the BCS and access to college football’s new playoff remains unchanged. Although it’s not clear yet what it will be called going forward, the former football side of the conference will apparently move in another direction from a branding standpoint. Frankly, it’s the only logical move.
The Big East used to be a respectable football conference — more than respectable, really — when Boston College, Miami, Pitt, Syracuse, West Virginia and Virginia Tech were still members. But conference expansion and realignment has resulted in all of those programs, along with many others, heading to the ACC, Big 12 and Big Ten.
Or, in the case of Boise State and San Diego State, staying in the Mountain West without every really joining.
The decline of the Big East can be attributed to a number of things, but there’s no doubt its very identit has always been basketball and no other major conference has faced the challenges of trying to manage two different groups like the Big East. Now that the Catholic 7 will move on with the Big East name, the former Big East football members have a good opportunity for a fresh start in rebranding its football league.