Big East Conference commissioner Mike Aresco announced Friday the league has reached an agreement with the seven basketball-centric schools scheduled to form their own alliance on July 1. Georgetown, DePaul, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Villanova and Marquette, along with other future additions, will carry on the Big East brand.
The current Big East will come up with a new name and will consist of Louisville, Rutgers, UConn, Cincinnati, South Florida, Temple, Houston, Memphis, Central Florida and SMU next season. Tulane and East Carolina are expected to join in 2014 and Navy’s football team will drop anchor with the alliance in 2015. Louisville and Rutgers are bolting for the ACC and Big Ten, respectively, after next season, and Tulsa is a leading candidate to replenish the league as a 12th team in 2014.
“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 current Big East was formed in 1979. Notre Dame joined in all sports other than football and hockey in 1995. Fighting Irish athletic director Jack Swarbrick originally planned on his stable of sports competing in the Big East next season before moving them to the ACC beginning in 2014-15. The rapid collapse of the league has forced Swarbrick to work out an early exit to the ACC for next fall, remain in what is left of the current league, reportedly to be called the America 12, for another year or join the new Big East on a one-year basis.
An expedited move to the ACC, which sounds willing to accommodate the Fighting Irish, appears to be the most logical maneuver.
A joint statement from the presidents of the seven Catholic institutions breaking away was also released Friday.
“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.”
Along with retaining the Big East name, the seven Catholic schools and new members will take with them the Big East Championship contract with Madison Square Garden in New York City.