March 9, 2013 in Sports

Breakup of Big East becomes official

Football members left behind get $100 million
Ralph D. Russo Associated Press
 

Aresco
(Full-size photo)

NEW YORK – The Big East made its split official Friday, with seven basketball schools breaking away from the football-playing members in a deal that takes effect on July 1.

Commissioner Mike Aresco told the Associated Press that the seven Catholic schools that are leaving to form a basketball-centric conference will get the Big East name, along with the opportunity to play their league tournament in Madison Square Garden.

The football members, most of which are newcomers to a conference that has been ravaged by realignment, get a cash haul of roughly $100 million. That group includes just one founding Big East member – Connecticut – and will have to find a name for what is essentially a new league.

“It’s been an arduous four months but we got to the right place,” Aresco said in a phone interview. “I think both conferences have good futures.”

Aresco, who will remain commissioner of the football league, would not disclose the financial part of the settlement.

A person familiar with the negotiations told the AP earlier this week 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 the football schools have not chosen a conference name and there are no favorites yet. “We can get on with reinventing ourselves and re-establishing our brand,” he said.

The seven schools breaking away from the football schools include some of the Big East’s founding members and most recognizable teams: Georgetown, St. John’s, Providence, Seton Hall, Villanova, Marquette and DePaul. They are expected to sign a television rights deal with Fox, add at least two more schools and start competing in the 2013 fall semester.

The football conference now known as the Big East will consist next season of Connecticut, South Florida, Cincinnati, Temple, Rutgers and Louisville, along with incoming members Memphis, Central Florida, SMU and Houston.

Rutgers and Louisville will likely be playing their last seasons in the conference before switching leagues, to the Big Ten and Atlantic Coast Conference, respectively.

Tulane and East Carolina are scheduled to join the football league in 2014, and Navy comes aboard in 2015. Tulsa is being targeted as the next addition to the conference.

The football schools will still have a basketball league.

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