Official: Catholic 7 to form new conference, keep Big East name

It's official. Fans of the Catholic 7 are currently Buzzing. - Andy Lyons

The Big East has announced what has been a formality for exactly a week now: the Catholic 7 - DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John's, and Villanova - will form their own conference and inherit the Big East name.

The seven schools will leave the soon-to-be America 12 Conference on June 30th and start their new league on July 1st. The new Big East is expected to add Xavier and Butler from the Atlantic-10 and Creighton from the Missouri Valley Conference for the 2013-14 season. In addition to Xavier, Butler, and Creighton, Dayton and Saint Louis are leading candidates to join the new league in time for the 2014-15 season. These five additions would result in a twelve team league of "basketball-only" schools. The Big East Tournament will continue to be played in Madison Square Garden.

"I am pleased that this agreement has been reached," said current Big East commissioner Mike 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 Presidents of the Catholic 7 released the following statement on their separation from the Big East: "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."

Fox Sports is expected to announce their partnership with the new Big East in the form of a lucrative television deal that nets each team in the conference at least $3 million per season. However, there has been speculation that the Catholic 7 schools will not divide the television revenue equally with the added expansion schools. Instead, the Catholic 7 will earn somewhere around $5 million per season. This total is around double ($2-3 million) what the schools rake in through their current television deal.

Fox Sports was initially expected to make an announcement this past Tuesday on the television deal, but they decided to hold off. It only makes sense that Fox makes everything public after the Big East announces their end of the deal.

Here is what Seton Hall AD Pat Lyons had to say about the deal, prior to the announcement today:

"Certainly by now you have seen or heard the latest news coverage regarding conference changes. As you know, as part of the seven basketball only schools, we are beginning to map out our new league. We are heading in a great direction for Seton Hall and the creation of our new league will be exciting for all Pirate fans."

Jerry Carino spoke with Rutgers' head coach Mike Rice yesterday, who confirmed that Rutgers and Seton Hall will play a non-conference game next season and preserve the intrastate rivalry. Rice said jokingly, I think, that he and Kevin Willard will play a round of golf to see which school gets to start the new non-conference rivalry at home.

"Tim [Pernetti] has to speak with their athletic director... It's going to happen. We just have to figure out the logistics. We thought it was going to be in two years, so we had time."

"He [Willard] was going to give me 18 strokes and we were going to play so see who won to get the [first] home game, and he was a big favorite. Now we have to figure out what we're going to do. We have to figure out is it going to be early December, late December. I'd like the students to be there, but if it makes sense to put it on the same date every year so you're not fighting back and forth, that makes sense."

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