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Big East Catholic Universities Debating Defection, Own Conference

In light of all of the shuffling of realignment, the Catholic, basketball-only members of the Big East are seriously considering defection en masse.

Jonathan Daniel

Back in September, our own Nick Fasulo told you about the possible changes that the Big East's impending realignment could create, and threw out the idea of an all-Catholic conference spearheaded by the conference's basketball-only members and pulling in a few others. He mentioned it as "far fetched (due to) issues I'm glossing over", but guess what?

The presidents of the Big East's seven Catholic, non-Football Bowl Subdivision schools are expected to decide on their future in the Big East in the coming days, and it "would be an upset" if they remained in the league, sources told ESPN

POW! Right in the kisser, Big East. Granted, this is far from a foregone conclusion - I was "more likely than not" to drive by Burger King yesterday, and that wound up not happening, so who knows. However, this creates a very serious kink in all of the realignment talk.

The Big East is the lone Big Six conference that has any members who are basketball-only (at least until Notre Dame switches to the ACC), so I suppose it really only affects them, but it would appear that our friends over at Big East Coast Bias were wrong when they pointed to the media rights deal the Atlantic 10 inked, relative to what the Big East would get, as proof that the money coming in would be too good for teams to just walk away.

Some schools, like Marquette, appear to have no such reservations. From the same ESPN story, Marquette AD Larry Williams:

"The Big East that Marquette joined in 2005, boy, that's a different looking animal going forward over the next couple of years," Williams told 540 ESPN Milwaukee. "It's prompted some deeper discussion [about] what [the] futures are for schools such as Marquette, Georgetown and Villanova."


Williams acknowledged he was "not pleased" specifically about adding Tulane.

"I was not pleased that we issued an invitation to Tulane without any diligence to what effect that would have on our basketball product, the draw on our RPI and other such things," Williams told 540 ESPN Milwaukee. "I was disappointed that I wasn't able to participate as a member of the conference in the deliberation that went into adding that."

Williams added that the Big East's other non-football schools felt the same way.

"It was home. Now that home has been sort of changed, and somebody came and put new furniture in, and boy, do we still fit here is what everyone is sort of thinking about."

We talked about how moves like the one to add Tulane didn't really do anything for the Big East but keep it's total membership number high, and it appears that Marquette, for one, is in agreement.

Believe it or not, folks, some schools actually still give a damn about traditions and chemistry and things that aren't guided by the bottom dollar. I'm not sure what exactly this possible defection could mean - for the Big East, for Catholic universities that don't play FBS football, or anyone else in this landscape. But it could mean our first concrete move towards "enough is enough."

Important in this is the possibility of complete dissolution of the Big East as a conference. As the ESPN article points out, because of all the recent shifts, there are only ten schools who currently have a vote in that issue, and seven of them are the schools we are talking about here. That constitutes the two-thirds majority needed for the measure to pass, per the conference bylaws.

The other three votes belong to Cincinnati, South Florida, and UConn - the same UConn that would have left the Big East already of not for Louisville beating them to the punch.

Were this to happen, a number of other possibilities exist. These possibilities include schools like Creighton, Gonzaga, Siena, Dayton, and the like joining a Catholic league. Maybe it also includes newer/future Big East schools returning to where they came from. Or maybe, in the next two days or so, this group of schools decides to stay put. Who knows - but we'll sure keep an eye on it.