Men's Basketball

Catholic seven decides to leave Big East

The seven Big East basketball-only programs have decided to depart from the conference that UH will join in all sports for the 2013-14 athletic year.

UH athletic director, Mack Rhodes said the direction of conference realignment is uncertain but the Cougars are still committed to the Big East.

“We’re always going to do what’s best for UH, and what’s best for UH today is Big East,” Rhodes said. “When you look at conference realignment, you can’t predict it. I could tell you one thing today and by the time we wake up tomorrow it could be completely different.”

The schools released a joint statement announcing the move.

“Earlier today we voted unanimously to pursue an orderly evolution to a foundation of basketball schools that honors the history and tradition on which the Big East was established,” the school presidents said in a statement Saturday afternoon. “Under the current context of conference realignment, we believe pursuing a new basketball framework that builds on this tradition of excellence and competition is the best way forward.”

DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Villanova are leaving the conference.

What could be next is a battle between lawyers to decide the date and cost of the exit.

Though Big East rules require departing members give the conference 27 months notice, the league has negotiated early exits already. The Conference has made settlements with Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia over the past year who all paid exit fees. But this situation is different, as a group of schools are preparing to leave this time.

Big East rules allow schools to leave as a group without paying an exit fee.

The seven schools emphasized the Big East’s focus on becoming a national football power as a reason for their departure.

“While we pursue this opportunity for our institutions, we believe the efforts of the past two years have established the foundation for an enduring national football conference.

Rhodes said the remaining members will have to be poised and creative, echoing sentiment from UH President, Renu Khator.

“Big East basketball schools leave…sorry to see them go but (there’s an) opportunity for us to think out of box and create something bold,” Khator tweeted.

UH joined the Big East because of its prominence in college basketball and position as a Bowl Championship Series automatic qualifier conference.

Neither would appear to be the case when the Cougars join next year.

Without Syracuse, Pittsburg and West Virginia in football and the Catholic seven in basketball, the conference, which is negotiating a new television deal, will not generate as much revenue in their next deal.

The Big East expects to have a 12-team football conference next season with six new members. Rutgers and Louisville both announced intentions to leave the Big East last month but will compete in a Big East conference schedule next year.

Rhodes said the remaining members of the Big East are prepared to improve the conference.

“I think there’s a sense of excitement. I talked to most of my colleagues today. There’s a sense of camaraderie and ‘let’s make this thing great.’ There’s nothing to be ashamed of. All of the members have great accomplishments.”

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