SBD/December 11, 2012/Colleges

Sources: Big East Basketball Schools Meet With Aresco To Discuss League's Future

Aresco's meeting with the seven schools was the first of its kind
The seven Catholic, non-FBS, Big East schools met with Commissioner Mike Aresco on Sunday "to express their concerns for the direction of the conference," and the meeting "ultimately could lead to them splitting from the Big East's football members," according to sources cited by Katz & McMurphy of ESPN.com. Sources said that the N.Y. meeting was the "first among the seven schools," a group that includes Marquette, DePaul, St. John's, Georgetown, Providence, Seton Hall and Villanova. Sources added that the schools "discussed a number of options but most importantly wanted to have 'lots of dialogue to better understand the best course of action for the future.'" A source said that "no decision was made on what future action to take." Katz & McMurphy write at issue is "whether the Big East basketball-only schools have the power to dissolve the league, and retain all the assets and brand name." One source said that until July 1, the seven schools "have the majority votes and the necessary three-fourths to have controlling power." There are only three remaining football members -- Connecticut, Cincinnati and South Florida -- but a number of sources "couldn't confirm whether Temple, which is a football-only member this season, has a controlling vote." At Sunday's meeting, "which was earlier reported by AJerseyGuy.com, the seven basketball-only schools wanted to secure the best possible television deal." Aresco was there to "soothe any concerns about the prospects of a new deal." The "problem for the Catholic seven would be that if they were to venture off without taking the assets and brand name, they would forfeit all the NCAA tournament revenue from the conference and would be left without any start-up to form a new conference" (ESPN.com, 12/11).

WHO WIELDS THE POWER? In Providence, Kevin McNamara wrote the seven schools now are "in a position of strength in the league as numerous football members have announced plans to leave the Big East." Sources said that Big East presidents and ADs have "held numerous discussions over the last several months on the viability of the conference" (PROVIDENCEJOURNAL.com, 12/10). SPORTING NEWS' Mike DeCourcy writes the possibility of the seven schools breaking off on their own is "highly unlikely, as it would force all of them ... to pay exit fees and separate from the Big East brand, the league’s long-term contract to hold the championship tournament at Madison Square Garden and all the money due them from other schools’ exit fees and previous NCAA Tournament earnings" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 12/11).

GREENER PASTURES: In Cincinnati, Cliff Peale reported the latest conference realignment moves "spurred a flurry of emails among University of Cincinnati officials last month." The e-mails show UC leaders "believed the school could get into the Atlantic Coast Conference with the Big 12 as a secondary option." UC AD Whit Babcock in an e-mail to President Santa Ono on Nov. 18, before the ACC announced its decision to accept Louisville, wrote, "Big 10 and ACC moves ... could cause Big 12 perhaps to rethink staying at 10 schools. We need to focus on both ACC (primarily) but also Big 12." The e-mail and other documents also show that UC "tried to enlist Ohio State University football coach Urban Meyer, whose sister works at UC." Meyer eventually "backed away from that request" (CINCINNATI.com, 12/10).
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