Rovell: Catholic 7 working on high-profile TV deal

USA TODAY Sports

The Big East basketball-only defectors could be coming out on top financially.

The Big East's "Catholic 7" are leaving the conference, which could occur as soon as after this season. It now looks like the grasses could really be greener on the other side.

ESPN's sports business reporter Darren Rovell reported late on Saturday night that the Big East basketball-only schools are in talks with Fox for a deal that could reach more than $500 million over 12 years. Fox is slated to unveil its brand new sports network called Fox Sports 1 later this year.

The deal would provide the seven schools - DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John's, and Villanova - with roughly $5 million each, just about double the amount they receive under the current Big East television contract. Representatives from Fox are expected to meet with reps from the "Catholic 7" in New York on Wednesday, per Rovell's report.

Since these schools officially announced their decision to leave the Big East three weeks ago, rumors of possible suitors for the new, currently unnamed conference have included Fox, NBC Sports Network, and ESPN. It now seems that there may not just be a market for obtaining TV rights for the league, but a market that is highly competitive.

The current deal that the Big East holds is set to expire at the end of the current season, thus a new deal could be developing quickly. The time frame for official defection of the "Catholic 7" from the remaining Big East schools could very well be determined by these negotiations.

According to Rovell, the "Catholic 7" would "divide their share of the television rights evenly and split the rest among what ideally will become the other three to five schools that they add to form a 10- to 12-team conference." The percentage allocation to the former Big East schools may not necessarily be the same received by schools joining them from the Atlantic-10 or elsewhere.

The Rumble will continue to track this story as developments become available.

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