Next year's Big East. - Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
A surprise burst of news about next season.
Fans have wanted the breakaway basketball schools - dubbed the "Catholic Seven" by ESPN's meme-makers - to start play as soon as possible, crafting an oasis from the worries of realignment and the association with schools like Memphis, Southern Methodist, and Tulane. Mike Aresco even mentioned that a deal could be worked to get the separation finalized before next season.
Those fans, courtesy of Fox Sports, it seems, may get their wish.
According to ESPN's Brett McMurphy and Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel, the group of colleges - St. John's, Georgetown, Villanova, Providence, Seton Hall, Marquette, and DePaul - will move up the timetable to start a new league to next year, and will be announced as part of the new Fox Sports 1 programming on Tuesday.
The current Big East has chosen to sell off the Big East name... for a price.
Presidents at the Big East football schools are scheduled to meet in Atlanta on Friday where they're expected to sign off on selling the Big East name to the Catholic Seven and finalize the exit fees. The Big East football schools are expected to keep nearly all of the exit fees the league earned from its spree of attrition and the leftover NCAA units from the departure of schools such as Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Syracuse.
The basketball schools (and even Mike Brey on this morning's Big East conference call) have felt that the Big East name is their right, as the group contains four founding member of the Big East, while the football conference is Big, but certainly not "East", and has one founding member - Connecticut.
It costs, but names can be bought.
The Madison Square Garden conference location may be coming as well. Again from Sports Illustrated:
It's expected that MSG will eventually link together with the Catholic Seven schools, barring any significant interest by the ACC to become an annual occupant.
Notre Dame may be coming along for a year. From ESPN:
Sources said Notre Dame has planned on remaining in the Big East for the 2013-14 academic year as long as the Catholic 7 schools did so. However, if those schools left before then, the Fighting Irish would also look to join the ACC this summer.
If unable to join the ACC in 2013-14, the Fighting Irish would consider spending one season in the Catholic 7 league before moving to the ACC in 2014, a source said.
Earlier reports indicated that the new league - which we can now call the future Big East - would bring around $3 million per year per program for the media rights deal. Butler and Xavier (whose outgoing Athletic Director hints that they would say yes in a heartbeat) are favored for two slots in the league, though each will owe $2 million to the Atlantic Ten if the program changes affiliation without a year's notice.
Richmond, Creighton, Saint Louis, and Dayton are all considered strong possibilities to be in the new league.
Though the Big East name has been dragged through the mud as a conference, the brand for basketball remains robust. The Big East brand continues, associated with the famous rafters of Madison Square Garden, an associated knot of basketball-rich private schools.
It's helpful, of course, to have Georgetown and Marquette streaking into the NCAA Tournament for momentum.
Bonus - an extra reminder of what the former Big East has to deal with:
Last week, ESPN retained the Big East's media-rights deal by matching an offer from NBC Sports Network. The Big East's deal is worth $130 million for seven years, including $10 million for the 2013-14 basketball season, sources said.
However, if the Catholic 7 schools are not in the Big East in 2013-14, that $10 million amount would be reduced. The remainder of the deal -- $20 million annually from 2014-2020 -- was not dependent on the Catholic 7's membership and would not change, sources said.