What’s next for the Big East now that the 7 Catholic schools have made up their mind to leave the Big East and venture out on their own as a basketball only conference?
And just as significantly is where do the University of Connecticut and Cincinnati go when the Catholic schools leave without them?
The ACC has thus far shown no great desire to add the Huskies or Bearcats, nor has the Big Ten. They could stay and meld into the new group of teams that will compromise the new hybrid league.
The Huskies could also be proactive and make a call to the Big 12 to see if they can shake that conference which has 10 teams into adding two more. Adding UConn and Cincinnati would give the Big 12 a northern wing with West Virginia, Cincinnati and UConn. It would also enhance the conference in basketball and to some degree in football.
It would also generate more revenue for the conference since a 12-team league can stage a conference championship game which would also generate more television dollars.
UConn President Susan Herbst has called an all sports staff meeting on Friday morning to discuss UConn’s options.
While there was no official statement or announcement that Marquette, DePaul, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Georgetown, Villanova and Providence were breaking away from the football segment of the ever-changing landscape of the Big East, several source said that it was merely a question of how to initiate the divorce proceedings.
There are two options, both have flaws. The schools could withdraw as a group. Normally that would entail an exit fee of at least $10 million and a 27 month waiting period. But in 2003 former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese pushed through an agreement that would eliminate the exit fees for either the football side of the conference or the basketball side if they left as a group. A two-year waiting period would still be enforced.
The flaw in that plan is obvious. The Catholic schools would forfeit the growing total of exit fees that have been paid or will be paid by Big East schools such as West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and Rutgers, all who have left or in the process of leaving the conference.
They would also leave behind the Big East name, although with only Connecticut remaining from the anchors of the conference, the Big East name in football would continue to be open to ridicule.
To avoid this dilemma, the Catholic schools could push through a vote distributing the exit fee assets immediately and also negotiate a deal where they would take the “Big East” name with them paying off the remaining schools to get their escape.
The second option would be to simply vote to dissolve the league. The Catholic schools have 7 of the 10 votes which is the 2/3 majority they would need to pass such legislation.But a clause in that by-law requires at least two of the dissenting votes to be football school members.
“It’s a very involved process and I’m not sure if the basketball schools have anyone in place to orchestrate that,said one source not authorized familiar with the negotiations.” “No matter what the ultimate decision, it’s going to take some time.”
Expect some kind of acknowledgement that the 7 schools are leaving on Friday, with more details following a conference call on Saturday. The process of evolving into separate conferences for the Big East has begun.
© 2012, Mark. All rights reserved.