When Will the School Leave?
The decision has been made by the seven non-FBS football schools in the Big East to leave the conference. At this point, the details need to be figured out. There weren't many details available when the presidents of Georgetown, Providence, Seton Hall, DePaul, Marquette, St. John's and Villanova unanimously voted to leave Saturday. But those details should be disclosed relatively soon.
There has already been speculation that they will try to align with other Catholic schools that have strong basketball programs, such as Dayton, Xavier, Creighton or even Gonzaga, which is located in Spokane, Washington.
According to ESPN, the schools will not be allowed to leave the conference until June 30, 2015. But we've heard that before in situations like these, and in nearly every recent case the school leaving a conference is able to negotiate its way out earlier than expected. Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia are three recent Big East defections who did just that. West Virginia paid $20 million to head to the Big 12. The other two paid $7.5 million to decrease the conference's 27-month waiting period and will start play in the ACC next year.
But in this case, there is a different dynamic at play. Will the Big East exist to keep these seven schools in place until 2015 or even stop them from assuming the Big East identity and contracts? Rutgers, Louisville and Notre Dame (in everything except Notre Dame Football) will all attempt to make smooth exits in time for next fall. Rutgers is joining the Big Ten and Louisville and Notre Dame are headed to the ACC. The Big East moved quickly to replace Rutgers and Louisville with Tulane (all sports) and East Carolina (football only), starting in 2014.
The Big East expects to add seven football schools next year. If those schools rethink their decision, there won't be a conference left. Temple, Memphis, SMU, Houston and Central Florida are joining the Big East as full-time members. In 2013, San Diego State and Boise State will become football-members only.
Cincinnati and Connecticut, of course, will stay in the Big East. But last month, both of those schools were openly having discussions to join the ACC before Louisville captured those sweepstakes. If an ACC spot becomes available again, what reason do we have to believe they would stay in the Big East? In today's NCAA, it's challenging for even the most experienced administrator to see that far ahead.