SBD/December 27, 2012/Colleges

What's In A Name? Battle Of "Big East" Moniker Likely To Occur Between Two Groups

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With the Big East's seven non-FBS schools having voted to leave the conference and form their own league, questions that "remain to be answered" include when will the new conference be formed and which league gets to keep the Big East name, according to Lenn Robbins of the N.Y. POST. Kenyon & Kenyon trademark attorney Mimi Rupp said that the FBS schools staying in the Big East -- Cincinnati, South Florida and UConn -- "probably would win the case, but at what cost?" Rupp said, "The three schools that are staying in the Big East will argue that the trademark registrations and name are no different than any other Big East property, which belongs to the Big East Corporation." Rupp said the seven departing schools will likely "claim that the name belongs to them because they are synonymous with the Big East brand." Robbins cited sources as saying that Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco has been "working tirelessly toward this solution: After the 2013 football season, the last year in the current BCS system, and the 2013-14 basketball season, he will sell the rights to the Big East name to the Catholic Seven." The league with those teams will "continue to play its postseason tournament" at MSG. But going forward, the "conference with football schools, according to several marketing experts, might be better off launching a new brand." Meanwhile, a source said that though St. Mary’s and Gonzaga are "attractive candidates" to join the Catholic Seven, the "travel costs to fly non-revenue teams cross-country will almost surely make adding them prohibitive." The source said that Butler, Dayton, George Mason, St. Louis and Xavier are the "top five options as the league seeks to transform into an elite, 12-team, hoops conference" (N.Y. POST, 12/24).

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE: In Indianapolis, David Woods noted that Butler basketball coach Brad Stevens "reinforced what university president James Danko said in a statement about conference realignment: Butler will do what is best for the school." Stevens said of the seven non-football schools leaving the Big East, "I definitely agree with the decision. They had to." Butler announced in May that it was "leaving the Horizon League for the Atlantic 10." The new league likely "wouldn't begin play until 2014-15." But if it debuts "as early as next season, Butler could be in three leagues in as many years" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 12/24).
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