The Big East and the... future Big East have announced their separation. St. John's, Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette, DePaul, Providence, and Seton Hall's athletic programs are free to craft their own Big East Conference, with the Big East name, the basketball records, future NCAA Tournament units - and invite friends to the party.
And it will definitely start this summer.
From the release:
The separation will become effective on July 1, 2013.
The agreement, which remains subject to formal Board approval, contemplates continued cooperation and playing opportunities between the conferences.
"I am pleased that this agreement has been reached," said Aresco. "With the long-term well-being of our outstanding institutions and their student-athletes of paramount importance, each group worked through a number of complex issues in an orderly, comprehensive and amicable manner marked by mutual respect. We part ways as friends and colleagues and look forward to the success of both conferences."
The Presidents of the seven basketball universities released the following statement regarding their formal separation: "We are grateful to Commissioner Michael Aresco for spearheading an agreement that truly represents the best path forward for each of our great institutions and the thousands of student-athletes who compete for our schools annually. It is a great credit to Mike, our colleagues, and all involved that we were able to work through a host of highly complex and time-sensitive issues in such a short period of time. We are pleased that we reached this amicable and mutually-beneficial separation by approaching each issue with a spirit of cooperation and shared respect."
Reports are that the new Big East will start with a TEN team league on July 1st. Now that the agreement is official, expect Butler and Xavier to be contacted (there had been no official contact before now, which makes sense - the separation was not announced). Strong rumors have the Creighton Bluejays as the tenth team.
To obtain (retain?) the Big East name, the future Big East gave up the rights to much of the exit fees owed from the early departures of Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Rutgers - and the members who committed to the league but never played in the Big East, Texas Christian, San Diego State, and Boise State Universities. That pool of money is worth upwards of $110 million.
The league will be featured on the new Fox Sports 1 network. The former Big East may be called the America 12 Conference; they have registered URLs with variations of that name.
Per Ed Daginault, current Big East commissioner Mike Aresco says "We have not chosen a name at this time and there are no favorites. We are excited about the prospect of re-branding and look forward to working with our institutions and our fans as we engage in this process."