After the seven Big East Catholic, non-FBS schools (Marquette, DePaul, St. John’s, Georgetown, Providence, Seton Hall and Villanova) met with Big East commissioner Mike Aresco on Sunday, the further direction of the Big East basketball is seriously in question. Right now, it looks as if the basketball-only schools could very well split from the Big East’s football members.
If the basketball-only schools are able to dissolve the league, they would most likely still be able to bring along additional full members of the Big East, Memphis, Temple, Tulane, Central Florida, SMU and Houston, and football-only member East Carolina over the next two years to replace departing Syracuse, Pitt, Louisville, Rutgers and Notre Dame.
But, now that some schools have expressed concern about how the additions of Tulane and East Carolina might affect the basketball league’s RPI, there is an opportunity for smaller conferences such as the CAA to step in and attempt to benefit from the Big East’s troubles.
Think about it this way: When the Philadelphia 76ers saw that the Los Angeles Lakers were struggling to land Dwight Howard this summer, the team jumped in and landed a potential franchise-changing player in Andrew Bynum,while helping the Lakers get the guy they so highly coveted.
The Colonial Athletic Association should definitely consider being the 76ers to the Big East’s Lakers.
Currently, the CAA is set to have 10 basketball-member schools for the 2013-14 season, but are still open to expansion. During a teleconference regarding the league’s championship change in location from Richmond, VA to Baltimore, MD, CAA commissioner Tom Year said that the league is “absolutely [looking to expand] if the right institutions are available. There is a lot of activity going on right now.”
With a new championship location in a bigger city with bigger TV deals, the CAA now has another marketing tool to throw out to potential new schools. Playing a nationally televised tournament in Baltimore every March would be a nice selling point to some schools looking to realign.
With Tulane and East Carolina both already in the works of leaving Conference USA, it wouldn’t be likely for the two schools to remain in the league if their Big East transition falls through. If that is the case, the CAA, even though considered a slightly lesser league, should be willing and thrilled to jump into that equation.
The CAA should also look to contact smaller current Big East basketball schools like DePaul, Providence and South Florida along with Creighton, who could potentially be looking to escape out of the Missouri Valley, although such moves are more unlikely that likely.
Jake Fischer is the CAA Correspondent for Rant Sports-NCAA Basketball. Make sure to follow Jake on Twitter @JakeLFischer.