SBD/March 11, 2013/Colleges

New Basketball-Centric Big East Will Keep Conference Tournament At MSG

Madison Square Garden will continue to play host to the Big East Tournament
The Big East agreed to sell its name to the Catholic 7 schools that are breaking away this summer to form a basketball-only conference, and the new league also will "assume the old one’s contract to play its conference tournament at Madison Square Garden," according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. The sale of the Big East name is "not an exchange of cash." Sources said that the Catholic 7 instead will "pay primarily by leaving behind much, if not all, of the money they would have received from the exit fees of other departing universities and the entry fees from new members." The Catholic 7 schools will "not pay departure fees." Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco "denied reports that the label 'America 12' was the favorite." He said, "We’re assessing names. ... It won’t be right away. We’ll be testing and doing a lot of work." Aresco added, "We have more geographic coherence than we did during the past six months. We’ll have a name that’s appropriate and a name that gives us a fresh start." He said, "We’re all hoping for stability." Aresco’s "soon-to-be-renamed conference is expected to have a broadcast deal in place soon" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/9). The AP's Ralph Russo reported the football members, "most of which are newcomers to a conference that has been ravaged by realignment, get a cash haul of roughly" $100M. A source said that the football schools will "receive about $100 million from a $110 million stash the conference had built up over the last two and a half years through exit and entry fees as well as NCAA men's basketball tournament funds." Aresco said that they have "not determined how the money from the separation agreement will be split among the members." However, the source said that the "bulk of the money will go to holdover members Cincinnati, Connecticut and South Florida" (AP, 3/9).

WHAT'S IN A NAME? In Houston, Jerome Solomon wrote of the rumored "America 12" conference name, "My love of country puts me in the camp of absolutely hating this name" (CHRON.com, 3/8). In Cincinnati, Paul Daugherty wrote, "And really: America 12? It sounds like the name of a large yacht" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 3/9). In L.A., Chris Dufresne wrote, "'America 12' was floated but apparently there was some blow back." For one, the new league "will have only 10 teams the next two seasons." Dufresne: "America 12? Come on, now, you guys can do better than that. That sounds more like a name for a Space Shuttle" (LATIMES.com, 3/8). NBC Sports Network's Dave Briggs said of the name, "It is not good for those schools. They need to get a better name. Why don't they just sell out like the rest of them and have it be like the Starbucks 10 or something?" ("The Crossover," NBCSN, 3/8). In Philadelphia, Bob Ford wrote, "The 'America' part is fine, but the '12' is optimistic. Getting to and staying at exactly that number will be a challenge" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/10).

END OF THE ROAD: ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy cited a source as saying that the Big East is "seeking at least" $2.5M from Notre Dame to allow the school to "leave and join the ACC on July 1." With the "official departure of the Catholic 7 schools, Notre Dame wants to move to the ACC this summer" (ESPN.com, 3/8). In Chicago, Brian Hamilton wrote the Notre Dame men's basketball team's 73-57 loss to Louisville on Saturday "represented the last Big East regular season game in school history." Notre Dame men's basketball coach Mike Brey said, "Nobody's told me what it's going to entail but I'm fully expecting to play in the ACC" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/10).

ALIVE AND KICKING: In N.Y., Lenn Robbins writes the Big East is "living on and there's no reason to think many of the programs currently in the league (Georgetown, Marquette, St. John's) and many that are coming in (Butler, St. Louis, Xavier) won't get significantly better." Those schools already have "put their money where their mouths are." The Big East "isn't dead" (N.Y. POST, 3/11). Former UConn coach Jim Calhoun said the Catholic 7 “did what they had to.” Calhoun: “They’ve been bullied around by football so much … and they had to make their own independence” (“College Gameday,” ESPN, 3/9). However, Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan said, “The costly divorce means that while the so called ‘Catholic Seven’ get to retain the Big East name and will keep Madison Square Garden as their tournament site, they will receive far less TV money, to start anyway, than the schools they left behind in the new league that has no tradition, no natural rivalries and right now no name, only goal posts and a few footballs” (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 3/10).
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