Catholic 7 could lead to another chain reaction
by Dan Wolken, USA TODAY Sports
While college athletics has generally been operating in a state of flux the last three years due to massive realignment, life in the Missouri Valley and Atlantic 10 conferences has been pretty good. To this point, the venerable Valley has been untouched, with no membership changes since Tulsa left in 1996. Less than a year ago, the A-10 seemed poised to be one of realignment’s big winners with the addition of Butler and Virginia Commonwealth.
But that could change – and soon – as the breakup of the Big East conference appears to be accelerating, with a split likely coming in time for the 2013-14 season. And with the Catholic 7 poised to grow to 12, basketball is set for a massive round of realignment with ripples that could impact as many as 10 conferences.
“Most people at my level would tell you, never have you felt so helpless. You just wait,” said one Missouri Valley athletic director, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of realignment issues. “We’re just sitting here wondering if Creighton goes, which of the 26 schools in our footprint that make some sense should we be pursuing. You just have no idea what tomorrow is like because you don’t have any control of it.”
Though nothing is official, a person with knowledge of the Big East negotiations told USA TODAY Sports that athletic directors and presidents on the football side are expected to approve separation plans at Friday’s meeting in Atlanta, which would include the basketball schools getting the Big East name. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the league had not authorized anyone to speak publicly about the plans. Though originally the separation was set to occur in 2014-15, it is now more likely than not it happens next season, the person said.
ESPN reported Thursday that Butler and Xavier would be added to the Catholic 7 immediately, with Creighton, Dayton and St. Louis coming behind them in 2014-15.
If that comes to fruition, the new league would be acquiring four schools from … [For more on Catholic 7 could be catalyst of another chain reaction, click here.]