According to sources in the Big East, the 7 Catholic schools who announced on Saturday that they were leaving–DePaul, Marquette, Seton Hall, Providence, Georgetown, Villanova and St. John’s–and the three remaining FBS schools–Connecticut, South Florida and Cincinnati–will split a pot that includes more than $60 million in assets compiled from exit fees and the highly profitable “units” handed out by the NCAA to schools that perform in the lucrative NCAA basketball tournament.
According to a Big East source, the same by-law which allowed a group of schools to leave the conference without penalty, also stipulates that the assets of the league will also be divided.
Using that figure of $60 plus million as a base, the Catholic 7 will have in excess of $42 million to form what is expected to be a 10-team league at the start, with the possibility of quickly growing to 12 teams.
Even using the premise of the Catholic 7 taking the exit fee money and dividing it among themselves immediately, that still leaves more than $20 million as a start-up fund to cover operating expenses for a new conference. Add the extra money that will come from a television contract which has yet to be signed, but will be coming, and the prospects for initial financial stability appear to be great.
According to Big East sources familiar with the process, an agreement is in place which states in the event of a group departure in the conference such as occurred on Saturday, also states the assets and liabilities would immediately be divided among the conference with voting rights.
With Big East schools such as West Virginia, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Louisville and Rutgers all having departed or have announced they are leaving, the Catholic 7 and the Football 3 are eligible to divide the assets.
Included in that total are exit fees already collected or scheduled to be collected. According to sources the total in that pot is more than $20 million, with as much as another $20 million scheduled to be paid to the conference by the departing schools.
In addition, the NCAA “unit” money which is given to conferences on a 6-year rotating basis for appearances and success in the NCAA tournament could total another $24 million. The Big East, which two years ago placed a record 11 teams in the NCAA tournament, reportedly will be paid as many as 80 “units” this year. Each unit is worth approximately $300,000. Last year the NCAA paid the Big East $24.9 million, more than any other conference. That total is expected to increase when the payouts are again made this spring.
The schools that are leaving will have to negotiate the amount of money they earned in “units” and the exit fees they are required to pay.
Even with the most conservative estimates, the total of exit fees already paid, as well as the money which will be paid, plus the total of the basketball units translates into a pay-day of in excess of $60 million for the 10 schools.
Operating expenses as well as legal fees to sort of all this out are estimated to be several million dollars, but that still leaves a very positive cash payout for the schools involved.
© 2012 – 2013, Mark. All rights reserved.