The Death of the Big East

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It’s about to become official, after all these years: the Big East is finally dead.

Well, not really. If you caught the news today, the so-called”Catholic 7″ schools that are breaking away from the current all-sports Big East will take the Big East name with them, so technically, the league lives on.

But the all-sports Big East that included football is finally gone, and the league is returning to its roots, a conference in which men’s basketball is the headline sport, led by schools that don’t have a Division 1-A football program.

Here are the particulars of the deal:

  • The Catholic 7 — Georgetown, St. John’s, Villanova, Seton Hall, Providence, Marquette and DePaul — are leaving the current all-sports Big East, and they’re keeping the Big East name and the rights to play their annual tournament in Madison Square Garden. The Big East name goes back to the formation of the league in 1979, and playing the tournament at MSG is a tradition that started in 1983.
  • There is a $110 million pot of money at stake that will be split between the football-playing schools and the Catholic 7. The Catholic 7 — and whoever joins them — will get $10 million, and the football schools will get $100 million. Of the football schools, “holdover members” Connecticut, South Florida and Cincinnati will get most of the $100 million.
  • The Catholic 7 will be joined by at least two more members before they begins competition in the 2013-14 school year as the Big East.
  • The football schools — South Florida, Connecticut, Cincinnati and Temple — will be joined by Memphis, Central Florida, SMU and Houston in 2013 to make an eight-team league. East Carolina (9) and Tulane (10) will join in 2014 and Navy (11) is scheduled to join for football in 2015. The league is searching for a 12th team so it can split up into divisions. But then again, who cares? It’s Conference USA, folks.

There’s so much to say about this. Where to start? I will resist emotional diatribes about how stupid those that ran the Big East in the 1990s and 2000s were, and how this is their own fault. Believe me, I have no love lost for the Big East, but I won’t go there.