New Big East adds three, seals deal
by Dan Wolken, USA TODAY Sports
The “Catholic 7″ has grown to the Catholic 10. And Wednesday, they took a major step toward officially becoming the Big East.
As expected, the seven non-football schools that announced a breakaway from the Big East in December officially added Xavier, Butler and Creighton, and celebrated a new media rights deal with Fox during a news conference at News Corp.’s headquarters in New York.
The league, which will keep the Big East name after a negotiation with the football schools, begins play with a 10-team lineup in 2013-14. The league is expected to grow to 12, perhaps as early as 2014-15. The league also will continue to call Madison Square Garden in New York the home for its men’s basketball tournament.
The announcement comes a day after the football-playing group, which will rebrand under a new name, finalized a media rights deal with ESPN through the 2019-20 season.
Though the new Big East’s plans had been anticipated for several weeks, Wednesday was one of the biggest procedural hurdles in the formation of their league, as the three new additions formally withdrew from their current conferences.
Much work remains, however, including the process to hire a commissioner, assemble a league staff, get an office up and running and go through formal NCAA channels to be recognized as a conference and get automatic qualification to NCAA championships (though men’s basketball is the centerpiece, the league will sponsor other sports, including women’s basketball, baseball and soccer).
Those logistical issues, plus the complex negotiations with the football-playing group, at first made it seem unlikely the league would form in time for the 2013-14 season. But Fox, which is launching Fox Sports 1 this fall as a would-be competitor to ESPN, wanted the programming sooner rather than later and paid handsomely to get it. Multiple reports have valued the deal at $500 million over 12 years, which would be more money per school for the Catholic 7 than they earned from television in the old Big East.
In return for the Big East name and bypassing the 27-month waiting period for withdrawal, the Catholic schools are leaving behind … [For more on New Big East adds three, seals deal with Fox, click here.]