Catholic 7 Reportedly Aiming For 10-Team Conference; Butler, Xavier Set To Join?
The group of schools known as the Catholic 7 will "initially focus on a 10 team conference, which would mean invitations to Butler and Xavier of the Atlantic 10," according to sources cited by Mark Blaudschun of AJERSEYGUY.com. An internal "tug of war over the 10th team is being waged with Marquette leading a charge to include Creighton, while Georgetown and the Eastern Catholic schools are focusing on Richmond." The conference "would start as early as" the '14-15 season, as the "push to begin next season is losing power." Fox Sports, which has "tendered a tentative offer" of $40M per year for Catholic 7 broadcast rights, has "indicated it would like to see 12 teams." But the "initial thinking among the Catholic 7 is to go with 10 schools, which would allow" for a double round robin schedule of 18 conference games. Such an arrangement also would "allow each school to include high profile -- and television friendly -- non conference games." Meanwhile, the Catholic 7 may be "closing on a commissioner to guide them through all of these issues." Blaudschun wrote "don’t be surprised" if the Catholic 7 school presidents pursue West Coast Conference Commissioner Jamie Zainovich (AJERSEYGUY.com, 2/21). Georgetown President Jack DeGioia acknowledged that the new conference "likely will consist of 12 members though may expand to 10 initially." Sources said that the "three to five new members need not be Catholic schools." The sources added "geographical coherence" is expected. Schools joining the Catholic 7 will "have to agree to surrender their media rights to the conference for a significant number of years -- possibly the life of the league’s first TV contract, whether that’s five, seven or 10 years" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/22).
BIG GOING SMALL? In Tulsa, John Klein reports the Big 12 is "leaning heavily toward a future with 10 teams." Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said, "Ten is the right size for us. We have taken a look at all of the circumstances. We went through the entire process. ... There could be circumstances that change, but 10 is the right position for us. We will be prepared for anything. We won't just wait around and watch. But, we feel confident that 10 is the right number." Bowlsby, before speaking Thursday at the Tulsa Business Forums, "seemed to hint that it would take some major movement for the Big 12 to change its position on size or makeup of the conference" (TULSA WORLD, 2/22).