Weekly Rumble, December 16: the Great Schism week

Mike Stobe

Wherein a non-existent conference is deemed fully Catholic.

Obviously the big news this week was the ramp up to the Great Schism of Basketball, where a group of schools with basketball as their marquee athletic program chose to announce their departure from a league they had so long been associated with, and have watched rapidly change with the revenue that high-level football generates for teams in top conferences.

The departing schools are all associated with the Catholic Church, but are more aligned in their athletic missions - missions that have shunted football. The Big East as we know it is no more, but the basketball schools and the football schools left behind will fight over the name.

Some find it disturbing. Others find it necessary, in light of so many teams of the familiar Big East leaving for other conferences.

"In the climate in which we're in, it's very hard to have reassurances about too much, because things are changing so quickly," St. John's President, Rev. Donald J. Harrington, C.M., told the media this weekend. "We believe at St. John's that it's important that we shape our future, rather than have it happen to us. In this current context of conference shifting and realignment, we do believe that this move will put us in a stronger strategic position to compete competitively.

"Finances didn't drive this decision. But we are confident that this decision will not hurt us financially."

The Rumble covered the Great Schism... religiously, if you will, starting with Big East's non-football members meet to discuss their options. At that time, questions about revenue after a break and the legal issues of what money and branding the basketball schools could take were all up in the air.

The Atlantic-10 let it be known that they would happily bring in basketball schools to their conference, even though a leaner conference of the basketball schools would a) make more media money and b) have fewer "bad" games in terms of competitiveness and RPI, one of the main concerns with the Big East as it would be once the league's new members officially started play.

(They had to TRY, at least.)

By Thursday, it was clear that the "Catholic Seven" were going to split, but working out some of the details and the immediate messaging.

The Rumble profiled the Big East left behind and the possibilities for the new league in terms of NCAA history, Tournament appearances and Final Fours, and KenPom numbers as of last week. (It was a widely-read piece, one of our most popular since we started the Rumble - give a look if you haven't already.)

Once news started to leak out, it became known that the Big East split might actually not happen for 27 months, or at least not until 2014. The official statement from the breakway schools is also posted.

Actual games

There was a match against St. Francis on Saturday in the Brooklyn Hoops Classic. We had a Q and A from John at Big Apple Buckets and a scouting report from Jaden, who covers women's ball here. St. John's men's squad won, 77-60, over the Terriers.

Speaking of the women's side - they lost in the finals of their Holiday Classic (sponsored by Chartwells) to ranked UCLA. Completely unrelated - the women's side wore black uniforms for the first time.

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