For the last couple of years, we’ve witnessed the ways in which conference realignment has drastically changed the college hoops landscape—and we have college football to thank (blame?) for that. The Big East Conference, which just a few years ago was highly touted as the top college basketball conference in America, has been hit harder than any other. The conference has seen many of its top programs leave for the ACC, Big Ten and Big 12 (Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Rutgers, West Virginia), and will now watch its seven Catholic schools also break away from the league. From CBS Sports: “It’s official: The seven non-FBS football schools from the Big East have decided to withdraw from the rest of the league. It was first reported Thursday that the “Catholic 7″ — DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Villanova — were leaning toward separating from the FBS football members… What happens next is unclear. It has been reported the schools breaking away will look at Creighton, Xavier, Dayton, Saint Louis and Butler to join a new basketball league.”
The presidents released a statement Saturday:
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. 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.
We are grateful to our Commissioner, Michael Aresco, for his exceptional leadership of the Big East Conference. We have been honored to be associated with the outstanding group of institutions that have made up the Big East. 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.
We look forward to building this new foundation with an emphasis on elite competition and a commitment to the development of our students engaged in intercollegiate athletics. That is where we will now spend our energy as we move forward.