As Big East Conference teams go head-to-head on the court, the “Catholic Seven” are paving the way for their mass exodus. And they mean business.
Over the weekend, presidents representing the seven basketball schools in the Big East met in New York to discuss their departure from the league. The schools reportedly are pursuing a television deal with Fox Sports that could double the revenue they currently receive.
According to a report on ESPN.com, the presidents knew they could attract a larger contract if they left the faltering football-focused league behind. A possible larger pay day accelerated their departure.
Now with Fox Sports apparently taking the lead in negotiations, presidents from the Catholic Seven appear confident they can land a lucrative long-term television contract.
The language used in a statement the presidents released to characterize their meeting — “our orderly evolution to a foundation of basketball schools that continues to honor the history and tradition on which the Big East was established” — suggests a fight to retain the league name is not out of the question.
Whatever their next move, the Catholic Seven have gone from victims to victors in conference realignment. After years of watching football dictate their fate, they are calling the shots, making the deals and establishing the rules.
Perhaps by pushing back against the football heavies, the Catholic Seven are turning the tables on how universities run athletic departments. They are creating a model for other leagues and sending a message that the pursuit of money and maintaining rivalries and tradition are not mutually exclusive.
Merlisa blogs about Big East Conference Basketball. Follow her on Twitter: @merlisa