Divorces are often messy business. Feelings are hurt, bank accounts are depleted and lives are changed.
Say hello to the current divorce proceedings of the football and basketball branches of the Big East family.
The main parts of the story have been well documented.
The Big East, once a superb conference in basketball and a competitive conference in football, has been consumed with inner conflicts for the past 15 years, with schools leaving for more lucrative financial deals and more long term security, with family squabbles and feuds part of the daily routine.
The latest headline news was the decision by the Catholic 7 group of schools, who had announced in December their intention of leaving to form their own basketball-dominated conference. The original departure date was July of 2015. That was negotiated back to July of 2014.
That was still too long of a wait. For the past few weeks, the Catholic 7–urged by a lucrative television deal with Fox sports-worked hard on a departure date of this July. The Catholic 7 also wanted to keep the Big East name.
The football schools listened and said all of that was possible, if the price for leaving early was right.
Both sides agreed to the CONCEPT of leaving early and letting the “Big East” name also move to the Catholic 7 group.
Details could and would be worked out in an amicable fashion.
In the last 36 hours, that changed. The news leaked and then spread with the speed of a computer virus. Fox, anxious to promote its new cable sports venture, of which the Catholic 7 would be a cornerstone product, let it slip that a press conference promoting the new cable outlet would have the Catholic 7 as the main feature.
The Big East name would be part of it. So would be additional schools such as Butler and Xavier immediately and other schools such as Saint Louis, Dayton, Creighton, and Richmond.
Notre Dame, which is scheduled to head for the Atlantic Coast Conference in all sports but football in 2014, might consider playing with the Catholic 7 group for a year if the ACC couldn’t take them in early.
All good juicy stories.
The only problem on Friday morning was that the remaining Big East Presidents meeting in Atlanta hadn’t AGREED or signed off on ANYTHING yet. No final money offer had been agreed and we are talking millions of dollars that the Catholic 7 would leave on the table for the privilege of leaving early and taking on the Big East name.
People went into the meeting in Atlanta on Friday morning with an attitude of maybe we can do this, maybe we won’t–at least right away. Let’s look at the dollar figures, which are in the millions of dollars range. S
All of this will eventually be worked out. The Catholic 7 will leave in July. They will take the Big East name.
But….it might cost them more than they thought. And the word amicable is rapidly fading from the use of descriptions regarding the talks.
The devil is in the details as they say, and there are lots of details that must be worked out on both sides.
The trouble with the Catholic 7 Presidents is typical of the attitude that most of the CEO’s of the major college athletic schools in this country carry with them.
They are CLUELESS on how to make this all work. Sure, it’s easy for the Catholic 7 Prez to agree to a deal which allows the St. John’s. Georgetown’s and Providence’s of the world to play in a different basketball conference next season.
They don’t have to worry about setting the whole thing up. Hiring a commissioner, staffing offices, finding officials to work the games, not only in basketball, but in the other sports which seldom generate headlines.
They don’t care about the uprooting of people’s lives which will happen in the next several months as this arrangement is put together.
But then again these are the same Presidents in the Big East who turned down a $150 million television offer less than two years ago and were forced to sign off a few days ago on a deal which will pay slightly more than 20 million a year.
They should all sign with deals with Nike, simply because their motto seems to be “Just do it.”
Someone else will clean up the poop that is on the floor. Just tell me how much money we can make from this deal and we will sign. Rivalries, traditions, other parts of the fabric which makes college athletics still a great deal for both participants and fans, mean very little these days.
And, yes, it will get done. Somehow, some way. The old Big East will die and the new Big East basketball league will be revived.
They will hold games and tournaments, presumably next March in New York City’s Madison Square Garden, and people will come and people will watch on TV.
The football version of the Big East will also emerge as a conference that plays football next season, perhaps under a new generic name such as the Big American Conference or Conference America. Maybe a rebirth of the Metro Conference would be in order.
The words spoken in Atlanta on Friday by Big East commissioner Mike Aresco will be filled with optimism and a sense of familiarity with his new and former co-workers.
Life will go on, but it could and should have been done in a different more amicable manner.
The only one who should be happy with all of this are the lawyers.
© 2013, Mark. All rights reserved.