Catholic 7 officially break from Big East
A year ago at this time, Temple finally got itself back into the Big East. Who could have predicted that the Owls would never play a basketball game in the conference?
But that's the reality. As has been reported, an agreement has been reached to allow the seven Catholic schools to leave the Big East, effective July 1, to form a new league. The agreement doesn't become official until there's a formal board approval, but at this point that's nothing more than a detail. It's expected to happen next week.
Nobody from those seven schools - Villanova, DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John's and Seton Hall - is allowed to speak until all the powers that be have signed off.
Those schools, and whatever other schools join them, will keep the Big East name and continue holding the basketball tournament at New York's Madison Square Garden.
"We are excited about the prospect of rebranding and look forward to working with our institutions and our fans as we engage in this process," Big East commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement.
Aresco, who has been on the job less than a year, will stay with Temple and the rest of the football schools going forward in a new conference. That league doesn't have a new name yet, although something along the lines of America 12 Conference seems to be the favorite. It also doesn't have a home for its basketall tournament, although Hartford, Conn., appears to be the lead candidate. If not, maybe Memphis.
"I am pleased that this agreement has been reached," Aresco said. "Each group worked through a number of complex issues in an orderly, comprehensive and amicable manner marked by mutal respect. We part ways as friends and colleagues and look forward to the success of both conferences . . .
"We will select a name in a timely manner through a comprehensive and deliberate process that involves our presidents and athletic directors as well as constituents from inside and outside our conference."
If the rumors are correct, he could be dealing with even more departures, perhaps soon, which is what ultimately prompted the basketball schools to go their own way. Once Maryland settles its legal issues with the Atlantic Coast Conference over leaving for the Big Ten, Florida State and Clemson supposedly will join the Big 12. And Virginia Tech and North Carolina State could head to the Southeastern Conference. And two from among Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Virginia could join the Big Ten, as well, as the college landscape moves even closer to what many have predicted all along: four 16-team super-conferences. We'll see. But if the past few years should have taught us anything, it's that nothing is ever impossible.
Once the ACC loses teams, those same rumors say that Connecticut and Cincinnati would be the most likely replacements. Others say that Navy may opt not to come in for football as scheduled, and that SMU and Houston may decide their futures could be better served in the Mountain West. At some point Temple could well end up in a watered-down ACC, too.
Meanwhile, the Catholic schools are set to bring in Butler and Xavier from the rapidly depleting Atlantic 10, with some combination of Creighton, Saint Louis, Dayton and Richmond to follow.