SBD/February 28, 2013/Colleges

Catholic 7's Departure From Big East Could Come In July; Could Take Conference Name

A consensus is building for the Catholic 7 schools to leave the Big East in July
The breakaway from the Big East by the Catholic 7 group of schools “could start next July and would include the Big East name,” according to sources cited by Mark Blaudschun of AJERSEYGUY.com. Sources said that the “battle for the Catholic 7 schools … is now down to a battle of money.” Big East officials are “willing to make this move for 2013 -- and sell the Big East name -- if enough money is paid to the remaining conference schools.” The Catholic 7 by waiting for another season “would not be subject to any exit fees.” But with a multiyear TV offer of approximately $40M from Fox Sports, the Catholic 7 schools are "getting pressure to make a deal which allows them to exit a year early.” In the “past few days, the consensus towards leaving early has started to build” (AJERSEYGUY.com, 2/27). DePaul AD Jean Lenti Ponsetto said, "I'm hoping in a couple of weeks we'll have that (separation) piece done. And then once that piece gets done, the next step is to determine the (start) date." In Chicago, Brian Hamilton notes Ponsetto has “told her coaches to plan as if DePaul will be in the Big East one more year,” but neither she nor Marquette AD Larry Williams “outright rejected the notion of beginning in 2013-14.” Williams said, "Every school is committed to making it happen, whether that's on a super-compressed timeline or a little bit less compressed timeline." It is “generally accepted that a 2014-15 start date is more likely, given the need to add more schools toward a goal of 12, total.” But there is a “bit of a chicken-or-the-egg scenario with new membership, too -- do you need the start date or new programs first?” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/28).

THE NAME GAME: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir reports the Big East is “negotiating to sell its 34-year-old name” to the Catholic 7. The price to be paid by the Catholic colleges “will most likely be based on how much money they leave behind in pools of revenue that include exit fees from departing universities, entry fees from new members and cash earned for games played in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.” A deal on the name “could be announced in a few weeks.” Then a “new task will begin for the Big East: finding a name that embraces the geographic hodgepodge that the conference has become.” For a Big East “by another name, questions abound.” Sandomir: “Will ‘Big’ remain part of it? With multiple regions in a remade conference that do not add up to national scope, what, if anything, about the universities will the name try to convey?” Former Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese said, “I like the name. It’s recognizable to fans and it’s a marketing tool. But the name means more to the basketball group because of the history of the league. I think the Catholic schools could use it” (N.Y. TIMES, 2/28).
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