Friday, December 14, 2012

Big East 2.0: My Dream League??? (college hoops diversion)

The AP and ESPN were burning the wires yesterday and this morning on developments with the Big East Conference.

AP here and here.  ESPN here and here.  The main ESPN article is here.

[AP] The Big East is headed for another break up. This time, the seven prominent basketball schools that don't play FBS football are planning to cut ties with the ever-changing conference.
The divorce is expected to be complicated, maybe even contentious, with millions of dollars and possibly the future of the league at stake.
The Big East's non-football members decided Thursday to separate from the conference, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because officials from those schools are still sorting through details and trying to figure how best to split from the conference

[ESPN] According to the source, there is a lot of interpretation regarding exit fees, the waiting period, and on who gets the Big East name and Madison Square Garden for a conference basketball tournament.
The departing schools conducted a teleconference with Aresco on Thursday morning. They have scheduled a second conference call for Saturday, when they are expected to address these issues and possibly make an official declaration.
Because the seven schools are leaving as a group, they can use a league clause that eliminates the exit fee for a collective departure, a source told ESPN. However, the schools would have to honor the league's requirement to provide 27 months' notice.
The seven schools could negotiate an earlier exit, but the Big East would undoubtedly require some sort of financial compensation.
It's unknown who would keep the Big East name...
… Initially, both the FBS [football school] and non-FBS schools believed, sources said, that the seven Catholic schools could dissolve the league by a two-thirds majority vote, which they have. However, a source with knowledge of the situation told ESPN on Thursday that the league may not be dissolved without at least two FBS and two non-FBS members each voting to do so.
That won't happen as only 10 full members -- the seven departing, non-FBS schools plus UConn,Cincinnati and South Florida -- remain in the conference and the FBS schools don't want the league to dissolve. Temple is a football-only member. The Owls will be full members next year but would not get a vote on dissolution this year.
Without voting to dissolve, the seven schools are expected to move together to form a new league. They would keep their automatic berth in the NCAA basketball tournament because NCAA rules state that as long as a group of seven universities has been in the same league for five years, it keeps its bid after a move together to a new conference.

So, the seven remaining "smaller" Catholic basketball schools - Villanova, Georgetown, St. John's, Seton Hall, Providence, Marquette and DePaul - have decided to "leave" the Big East en masse, yet may be able to take the Big East name and the hoops contracts/revenues with them.  Strong rumor is that they are thinking of creating an everything-but-football conference (like the Big East used to be), with other highly successful, mid-to-large sized Catholic universities.  This 10- or 12-school conference may include the following:

Big East originals:
St. John's
Seton Hall

Most likely possible new schools:
St. Louis
Butler (non-Catholic)

Other possible schools could be:
Boston College (a former Big East school who now may be uncomfortable with a bloated ACC)
Notre Dame (a more recent Big East school to leave for the ACC except for football)
St. Bonaventure
St. Joseph's

As a Villanova grad (Class of '85… yes, THAT class), I and a friend of mine (another Villanova grad from the 70s) have been dreaming about a men's basketball conference that would be a blend of various Catholic schools from the Big East and a few other conferences that were strong in college hoops in that general region.

Our dream conference may finally come to pass. :-)

12/18 UPDATE:

Upon further analysis of my suggestions, above, I think Xavier, Dayton and Butler from the A-10, plus Creighton from the Missouri Valley would be the best fit with the C-7 of the Big East.  Those four teams each have a two-decade success history in men's hoops and would fit in well.  That would bring the new league to 11 schools.

The 12th member should be from of the following list: UConn (for everything except football, are currently stuck still  in the Big East and are a founding member), or Notre Dame (for everything except football, another long-standing Big East school that was about to go to the ACC next year).  If neither of these schools wants to join, then start looking somewhere else.  Possibly St. Louis, VCU or Valparaiso.

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