The Big East conference has finished the football-basketball breakup. This means that the seven basketball schools currently in the conference can go their separate ways, taking the Big East name with them. The deal that was reached will become official on July 1.
Those leaving, often referred to as the “Catholic 7” will get to keep the Big East name in part because those schools were largely credited with monetizing the name in the first place. Georgetown, St. John’s, Marquette, DePaul, Seton Hall, Providence, and Villanova all have prominent basketball programs but no division one football presence.
Schools like Georgetown started the conference 1979 and didn’t add football until 1991. The departing basketball schools will not only get to keep the conference name but will continue holding their conference tournament in Madison Square Garden. The tournament has taken place in that venue since the start of the conference.
Big East football schools will receive a payout of $100 million as part of the breakup agreement. Those schools, many of them new to the conference thanks to massive shifts in the college football landscape will now go on the hunt for a new name.
It doesn’t appear that the money from the breakup will be split evenly among the remaining schools. The “oldest” of the conference’s football schools Cincinnati, Connecticut and South Florida will get larger shares than the other member schools.
The football schools will also get to keep the contract that the conference worked out with ESPN last month. While nothing has been made official it appears that the football schools are leaning towards renaming their conference the America 12.
The irony of that name is that the conference will not officially have 12 schools until at least 2015. The current makeup of a potential America 12 is Connecticut, South Florida, Cincinnati, Temple, Rutgers and Louisville. New members Memphis, Central Florida, SMU and Houston are joining up starting in the 2013 football season.
Rutgers and Louisville will then leave the conference after 2013 to join the Big Ten and ACC respectively. They will be replaced by Tulane and East Carolina in 2014 and Navy will come arrive in 2015. Tulsa is expected to be the 12th team to join the football conference formerly known as the Big East.