SBD/March 18, 2013/Colleges

New Big East Likely To Begin Play With 10 Teams; Xavier, Butler And Creighton To Join

This will be Butler's only season in the A-10 before leaving for the Big East
The new Big East will have "only 10 members in 2013-14 and then will take an approach to future expansion," according to sources cited by Katz & McMurphy of ESPN.com. The 10 members will be the Catholic 7 schools that left the Big East, "plus Butler and Xavier of the Atlantic 10 and Creighton of the Missouri Valley." Sources said that an official announcement that Butler, Xavier and Creighton will be joining will be made this week. Multiple coaches from the new league said that the new Big East "would play an 18-game, true round-robin schedule in 2013-14." The new Big East "will play its tournament at Madison Square Garden and has hired a search firm to find a new commissioner." Sources said that N.Y. is the "favorite to host the league offices" (ESPN.com, 3/16). In Indianapolis, David Woods cited sources as saying that Butler will "withdraw from the Atlantic 10" this week. The goal is to "get a new conference done before the second round of the NCAA Tournament begins on Thursday." Leaving the conference early will cost Butler a $2M exit fee. Joining the A-10 this season has "supplied Butler access to the East for student recruitment and graduates seeking jobs," and next year's move to the Big East offers "all that, plus about eight times the reported $400,000 a year that A-10 schools receive from TV rights" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 3/16).

BLUER SKIES: In Omaha, Michael Kelly wrote the move for Creighton is "a big step up, and no one believes it will be easy." But the invitation -- and a TV contract "expected to pay each school at least $3 million a year -- was the proverbial offer you couldn’t refuse." The 18,320-seat capacity of CenturyLink Center Omaha, Creighton's home arena, will be the "sixth-largest available to league teams." And Creighton fans "nearly fill it, ranking as high as sixth in the nation this year in average attendance." Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle said, "It’s going to be tremendous for Creighton but also tremendous for Omaha because we will get Omaha’s brand and Creighton’s brand in those big, big markets" (OMAHA WORLD-HERALD, 3/16).

WHAT'S NEXT? Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco said that a "final decision hasn't been made yet on having" East Carolina come to the soon-to-be-renamed conference "for all sports, but it is likely to occur for 2014" when Tulane is a full member. Aresco said that he has "no plans to move the current Big East offices from Providence." He also is "hoping the current staff stays in place." Cincinnati AD Whit Babcock said that "none of the schools will get a lump check from the departing schools but rather over a seven-year period." ESPN.com's Andy Katz noted there are "so many nuances in the money being left behind, from exit fees for some and NCAA tournament units for others." The TV revenue "dropped considerably per school." But Aresco said that was "natural due to the fewer teams." He added that the number "isn't done yet with marketing rights still to be discussed." After "settling on a name, the league can market itself, get a tournament site and start working as one -- for now" (ESPN.com, 3/15).
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