Until late last week, Marquette looked doomed to play an awkward transition year in the in-flux Big East during the 2013-14 academic year.
On Thursday afternoon, however, ESPN.com broke the news that Marquette and the rest of the “Catholic 7” will likely leave the conference this summer.
“The Big East’s seven departing Catholic schools are expected to start their own league next season,” stated the report compiled by ESPN.com writers Brett McMurphy, Andy Katz and Dana O’Neill.
The report also revealed two more important developments in the Catholic 7 saga.
First and foremost, the schools breaking away will bring the name “Big East” with them. The move makes sense, as there are more current Big East schools in the Catholic 7 than there are left in the conference.
Secondly, Xavier and Butler are expected to join the seven other schools in the “new Big East.” Xavier and Butler have yet to inform the Atlantic 10 of their plans to leave the conference, according to the report. The end of the report also mentioned Creighton as a likely 10th team for 2013-14 and St. Louis and Dayton as potential additions to complete the 12-team league by 2014-15.
Notre Dame’s role in the developing situation is also the topic of much speculation. While the Fighting Irish are projected to leave the Big East for the ACC after the 2013-14 academic year, they may now leave sooner, since the Big East isn’t viable for them without the Catholic 7. Other reports have suggested they may play all sports except football in the “new Big East” along with Marquette for a year before transitioning to the ACC.
The three leftover Big East schools – Cincinnati, Connecticut and South Florida – have engaged the Catholic 7 in meetings in order to arrange an exit fee. According to sportswriter Mark Blaudschun, the Big East holds a fund of up to $100 million to distribute among the schools. As a “penalty” of sorts for impending exits, the three remaining schools have proposed keeping $85 million of that for themselves, and passing out the remaining $10-15 million to the Catholic 7.
The seven schools are reportedly asking for more money. The two sides hope to settle on an amount by Tuesday. The schools are trying to settle as soon as possible so the new channel Fox Sports 1 can make an offer for the television rights of the “new Big East.”