With football-focused programs making a mockery of the once proud Big East Conference, the basketball schools could have the final say by dissolving the league.
Last week Rutgers announced that it would leave the Big East and join the Big Ten Conference in 2014. This coincided with Maryland’s announcement that it will leave the Atlantic Coast Conference and also join the Big Ten. The ACC is reportedly in talks with three Big East members, Connecticut, Louisville and South Florida.
The loss of any of those teams would leave the Big East with just three football schools with voting rights. That would give the basketball schools a majority that under the Big East bylaws, could allow them to dissolve the conference.
As first reported in the Providence Journal, a two-thirds majority vote is needed to dissolve the league. By taking this route, the basketball teams could regroup, form another conference and avoid paying the $20 million exit fee.
Pulling this off requires an unanimous front from all seven basketball schools, a stretch. It would also mean small Catholic universities kissing big-time television revenue goodbye in the short term.
There are other short-term costs associated with dissolving the league, establishing a new brand, forming a new conference and severing ties to an established, however fractured it may be, Big East. However, the long-term gains may be worth it for the basketball schools.
Having your future in limbo every season and at the mercy of football schools is no way to operate an athletic program. Dissolving the league is risky, but so is waiting for the slow and painful death of the conference.
Perhaps by dissolving the league and starting a new conference, the basketball-focused programs can reclaim an identity and badly needed stability.
If the basketball schools are to make this bold move, they must do it during a slim window before the new members, all football-focused, arrive in July.
With rivalries and traditions blown up, all for the sake of football dollars, perhaps it’s time for the basketball schools to go nuclear and boot the footballers out.
Merlisa blogs about Georgetown and Big East basketball. Follow her on Twitter:@merlisa