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Report: Big East about to implode

Thursday, December 13, 2012


After 33 years and countless big moments, the Big East Conference as we know it may be readying itself for one last hurrah.

The funeral.

According to several media sources, the presidents of the seven Catholic-based Big East institutions - including Providence College - held a teleconference meeting with Big East commissioner Mike Aresco Thursday morning. These same presidents are expected to issue a statement within the next 24-to-48 hours on their future within the league as it presently stands. While a source from inside this group told ESPN the presidents were still exploring all possibilities, the New York Post is reporting the schools will elect to leave the league.

Later Thursday, USA Today also published a similar story on the basketball schools deciding to depart, but without a clear picture of their immediate future.

"May have something later today depending on what transpires," PC athletic director Bob Driscoll replied when asked to comment. "I can’t comment (otherwise) until the dust settles. Hopefully I will know more by Saturday."

What isn't known at this time is what the name of this potential new league would be, and whether or not the "Big East" name, brand and post-season tournament rights would remain with the basketball schools.  If the seven schools decide to move to a new league they would keep their automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament according to NCAA rules, which say as long as they have been in the same league for five years, a group of seven universities can keep their bid after a move together. 

This past Sunday, the seven school presidents met with Aresco in New York to discuss a number of options and to "better understand the best course of action for the future," ESPN reported.

Thursday, multiple sources are reporting the "basketball seven" are leaning heavily toward breaking away from the Big East football members.

What isn't known is if this will be an attempt to dissolve the league, which the basketball schools can initiate by holding a 2/3rds majority vote according to league by-laws.  Or, if the seven schools will simply decide to move out on their own...leaving a battered Big East behind for UConn, Cincinnati, USF and Temple to try and repair.  There are numerous legal issues that apparently make the voting situation a complex matter to deal with.

Sources told ESPN Thursday that UConn President Susan Herbst has made an appeal to the presidents of the basketball schools, in an effort to keep them from departing.  Ironically, Herbst, along with Cincinnati and South Florida officials, heavily lobbied to get out of the Big East and join the ACC when the league had to recently replace Maryland. 

Later Thursday, a UConn athletic official contacted GoLocalProv to deny that Herbst made contact with fellow presidents from the basketball schools, and has not (yet) joined in any effort convincing them to stay.

The basketball schools' decision will also undoubtedly affect future football schools Boise State and San Diego State, who are scheduled to join the conference for football only next season.  Additionally, SMU, Houston, Memphis and Central Florida are scheduled to become full league members next year, with Tulane and East Carolina joining for football in 2014...and Navy for 2015.  Temple is also in the league as a full member next year, having been a part of the football side for this past season.

A Big East source from a football-playing school told ESPN on Sunday, "The basketball schools are not thrilled with Tulane" and "would have fallen off the ledge if we would have added East Carolina as a full member."

Last month, CBSSports.com reported that Houston has a provision in its contract with the Big East that it can opt out without penalty if certain TV revenue figures aren't met. It is assumed that the other incoming members of the Big East have similar provisions in their deals as well.  CBSSports.com also reported the estimated figures for a new television package were considerably lower than initial expectations, prompting the uneasiness from incoming members, and perhaps pushing the basketball schools to their current reality.

With the promise of a new television contract bringing in at least similar revenue to previous deals, the basketball schools swallowed the defections of Syracuse, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Notre Dame and Rutgers...hoping that those dollars could help them remain relevant in a sports world dominated by football.

However, with an apparent decline in anticipated revenue figures, and the reality of facing a watered-down version of a once-storied basketball league...that's no longer a viable option.  Now, it appears it's every man - or school - for itself.


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I think this is a great opportunity for PC. One thing I have wanted the team to do is come up with a tougher non-conference schedule. A smaller league will allow them to do this.

If, say, Duke is on the PC schedule, it will help in recruiting. Especially if a recruit was not accepted at Duke, PC can say "Hey we play them this year...Wouldn't it be nice to make them regret their decision?" I have always felt a difficult non-conference schedule can only make a team better.

PC may lose quite a bit in the early going...but if recruits do come, it will lead to a successful program down the road

Comment #1 by Keith Thibault on 2012 12 13

The hypocrisy of the UConn President appealing to the seven basketball only schools to stay is laughable. As the article reports, she was leading the charge for the ACC to accept her school!
Remember some years ago when the Syracuse Chancellor attended lengthy meetings meant to stabilize the Big East and then at their first opportunity Syracuse bolted.
The fact that these "academic leaders" are so disingenuous makes me nauseous. PC and the the basketball schools need to move in the direction that is best for them. Forget these other charlatans.

Comment #2 by Harold Stassen on 2012 12 13

Can't wait!!! The "Magnificent Seven" will attract other prime basketball schools and build their own brand. It shows that the "7" have met the challenge and the ACC for one has gotta be cringing that they did not destroy the heart of the Big East. If they stay true to themselves they will build the premier basketball conference in our nation!!!!! Too bad Connecticut, you bet on the wrong horse baby!!!!

Comment #3 by Wally M on 2012 12 13

wally m....ditto..

this takes all the pressure off..in 2-3 years, there will be competitive teams wanting to join the big east.

Comment #4 by jon paycheck on 2012 12 14

"Unlike my GoLocal colleague Scott Cordischi, I don't believe the Big East is imploding." Apparently you have had a change of heart partner! lol!

Comment #5 by Scott Cordischi on 2012 12 14


I agree that this is a tremendous opportunity for PC. Will it be as good as the "good old days" of Syracuse, UConn, Pitt, BC, etc being in the Big East, no. Still, there's an opportunity here to put together a very viable conference that should be very good in men's basketball. In my opinion, it would likely rate ahead of the A-10 which I believe is the best mid-major and below the lowest major conference like the Pac 12.

Comment #6 by Scott Cordischi on 2012 12 14

Scott - if you really thought a couple of months ago that the league was imploding then, in all of your infinite wisdom, you should have spoken up and saved all of us the angst. At the time I made that statement, the league wasn't imploding. ND and Rutgers hadn't yet jumped ship. But even you, in your half-baked Syracusian way of thinking...must know that in the present day, things change by the minute.

The key here is that the new media deal, which was voted down more than a year ago by the schools, has not materialized as hoped or thought. Schools keep jumping ship! No one has the courage of their convictions to wait the process out, hamstringing the league. The school that led the veto vote, Pittsburgh, then proceeded to jump to the ACC, take your school with them and stab the league in the back. That's what started the real current mess.

I'd be real proud of that alma mater, Scottie. Integrity at its highest. I'll wager we can discuss this further on Saturday, if you wish.

Comment #7 by John Rooke on 2012 12 14


Not true! The headline of my story on November 23rd was "Big East On Verge Of Imploding?" because, as I stated in the story, Rutgers WAS jumping ship! Notre Dame had announced much earlier that they, too, were leaving the Big East. It was after that when you disagreed with my assessment of the "Big East Imploding" in your Saturday piece. Go back and check it out yourself!

As for Syracuse, I have stated many times my disappointment in their choosing to leave the Big East for the ACC. However, given the current state of things, it's a good thing that they covered their own behind because what's left is an absolute mess! I thank God they are not in the same position as UConn, Cincinnati or South Florida.

I will be more than happy to debate this on the air Saturday morning!

Comment #8 by Scott Cordischi on 2012 12 14

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