The non-FBS football members of the Big East Conference — the Catholic Seven — officially announced today they are leaving to form a new league rooted on the hardwood.
DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall and Villanova now must decide what other schools they might invite to join them. Butler, Dayton, Saint Louis and Xavier are all likely candidates depending on how big the league wants to be. A 10 or 12-team configuration would make the most sense simply for scheduling purposes.
Presidents of the seven schools issued a joint statement regarding their unanimous decision.
"Earlier today we voted unanimously to pursue an orderly evolution to a foundation of basketball schools that honors the history and tradition on which the Big East was established," the presidents said in the statement. "Under the current context of conference realignment, we believe pursuing a new basketball framework that builds on this tradition of excellence and competition is the best way forward.
"We are grateful to our Commissioner, Michael Aresco, for his exceptional leadership of the Big East Conference. We have been honored to be associated with the outstanding group of institutions that have made up the Big East. While we pursue this opportunity for our institutions, we believe the efforts of the past two years have established the foundation for an enduring national football conference."
The move means an uncertain future for the remainder of the Big East which is slated to add six new teams in football next season and expand all the way to the West Coast. The decision to add those schools to strengthen the football side of the Big East ultimately played a part in the seven Catholic schools choosing to strike out on their own with basketball as the driving force in those athletic departments.
San Diego State and Boise State are leaving the Mountain West to join the Big East next season, but today's news could lead them to reconsider.