The divorce between the Catholic 7 group of Big East schools and the football side of the family has been settled, but an internal problem about distribution of the money remaining in the Big East reserve fund is holding up the announcement.
Welcome to the college version of the Hatfield and McCoys.
What should have been a perfunctory announcement that the Catholic 7–Seton Hall, Georgetown, Marquette, Villanova, Providence, St. John’s and DePaul–was leaving the conference on June 30th form its own basketball dominated conference has spilled over into a family football fight among the old Big East schools–Connecticut, Cincinnati, and South Florida–and the new group, who will be joining the league on a full-time basis on July 1.
The issue: the nearly $100 million of actual and projected money that the Big East has and will collect in terms of exit fees and NCAA basketball shares. When the distribution percentages are settled, the payments will be made over 5-to 7 year period, according to a report in USA Today.
The argument: The new schools, headed by Memphis, SMU and Central Florida, objected to a distribution plan which would have given the old schools as much as 90 percent of that total. The new schools wanted a much more even distribution, arguing that the Big East conference which existed when they made the decision to join had change dramatically in the past several months. So much in fact, that they should be compensated on a more equitable basis.
The old schools said that that none of the schools–with the exception of Temple which joined as a member in football last July–had done anything to contribute to the money that was in the fund and did not deserve a greater share than the $10 to 15 million which had been originally proposed.
The new schools countered with the argument that had they known about all of the defections and the drastic reduction of the television deal the Big East signed–a drop from a previous offer by ESPN of $151 million a year to slightly less than $30 million–they might not have agreed to join the league and that without their participation, Big East football would not even exist.
The old schools said that none of the new schools were being courted by the major BCS leagues and the best offer they could have received was from the Mountain West, whose new contract is still LESS per year than the deal ESPN and the Big East agreed to last month.
The two sides talked Tuesday. They talked Wednesday. They talked Thursday and continue to talk, with the expectations that some compromise on the ratio of the payouts can be reached.
While this was going on the Catholic 7 schools were saying, this isn’t our fight. Sign the deal to let us leave and then take your fight to another room and settle it.
They were also saying this was exactly the reason why the divorce proceedings began. Too many football dominated issues.
A side issue was the potential new name of The America 12 Conference for the football league–the Catholic 7 will take the “Big East” name as part of the deal–which was floated on Thursday was hardly a slam dunk to be accepted. Although the projections of a 12 team football league by 2015 remain, more than a few schools are nervous about putting a number total on a league which could shrink as easily as it could expand.
The issues will be resolved, hopefully in the next few days. The question at what cost, both real and perceived.
Right now, the Big East doesn’t look good in any areas.
© 2013, Mark. All rights reserved.