Big East close to a media rights deal for $20 million per year

Stacy Revere

The league is close to finalizing a deal.

Earlier, you probably read that Xavier is likely interested in joining with schools like St. John's and Georgetown in a new basketball conference not affected by the movement within the college football world.

The league left behind, including longtime Big East member Connecticut (new to football) and Cincinnati and South Florida will soon stop twisting in the wind, wondering how their games will be distributed and for how much next season.

The Big East that will be left behind is closing in a final deal that will secure their future on the rising network NBC Sports. The AP reports:

Two people familiar with the deal say the conference is closing in on a six-year contract with NBC Sports Network for football and basketball rights that will pay members around $20 million per year....

One person said the deal would likely be announced within the next two weeks. The Big East first has to go through the process of allowing ESPN, which currently holds the conference's football TV rights, to match the offer.

The deal being worked on would allow NBC Sports Network to move some Big East games to other networks.

Two interesting aspects of the deal - the amount, as ESPN has been reporting, will give the Big East teams under $2 million a year, depending on whether the league has 11 or 12 teams. Temple is already a member in football. Rutgers and Louisville leave after next season; Memphis, Southern Methodist, and Central Florida join next season, with Tulane coming in 2014 with East Carolina.

Additionally, the deal will allow the Big East's marquee games (and there will be some, despite the relatively low money to the schools from the deal) to move to a more widely-viewed network, such as ESPN - so the league won't be hidden.

The "Catholic 7" deal is reported to be in the vicinity of $3 million per school. Assuming the Catholic 7 league won't start until 2014, will St. John's and the rest play under this contract next season? We'll keep you posted.

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