Georgetown will be playing in the Big East next season, only the Big East will consist of at ten non-football playing schools. Got that? Time to break down one of the most reported, least sourced, and incredibly exciting conference realignment stories of the day millennium:
Georgetown and the six other members of what were once nicknamed the Catholic 7 (Villanova, St. John's, Providence, Seton Hall, DePaul, Marquette) will break away from the current Big East at the end of this season to commence play in a new, basketball-centric conference in July of 2013. (ajerseyguy)
Big East football schools will sell the name "Big East" to the departing basketball schools, who collectively have more original Big East members than any other conference. (ajerseyguy)
It is likely that the Big East Tournament will remain at Madison Square Garden (Sports Illustrated)
Xavier and Butler, currently members of the A-10, will join the Catholic 7 in the new conference. They will be subject to a $2 million exit fee. (ESPN)
A television contract with Fox could be announced as early as Tuesday when Fox will be holding a meeting for advertisers for the upcoming launch of its new cable sports network (Sports Illustrated)
The new television contract is expected to pay each member $3-4 million per year, which is over twice the amount the basketball schools currently receive from the TV contract with ESPN (CBS)
For now, the new Big East might only expand to 9 teams, despite the wishes of Fox to expand to 12 as there disagreement over who the 10th member should be. (CBS)
This is incredible news. Georgetown and its basketball-playing brethren may have just landed absolutely everything on its wishlist - an immediate exit, the Big East name, and Madison Square Garden - while nailing down a TV contract that at a minimum pays 50% more for basketball than the newly announced ESPN contract was paying for basketball and football combined. Also, I welcome our new game day crew featuring Gus Johnson and Erin Andrews.
There is something off about the teams not being able to agree on a 10th member. I love the idea of a true double-round robin schedule, akin to what the ACC used to have before John Swofford got greedy, but there is really no difference between 16 and 18 conference games. I think the new Big East is making a last minute push to land Notre Dame as the 10th member, and given the uncertainly surrounding the future of the ACC, Notre Dame might be listening.
There will be more developments ahead as things get sorted out. Look for news on a finalized Fox Sports contract (pay particular attention to who owns the digital rights), announcement of a commissioner, exit fees, and new members. Also, watch out for a Grant of Rights clause, or something similar to what the Big 12, Pac-12 and Big Ten did to ensure stability. In essence, member schools of those conferences assigned their TV rights to the conference for the length of the TV contract, so if they were to leave, the old conference, not the new conference, would retain the media rights, and hence the revenue associated with it.
For today, rejoice in news that Georgetown has secured its basketball future and enjoy the fact that Georgetown could very well leave the old Big East the same way it arrived: ON TOP.
UPDATE: It is being reported that Creighton will be the 10th addition to the league next year. While reasonable, don't forget that the source (ESPN) is motivated to keep Notre Dame in the ACC, a league for which ESPN owns the TV distribution rights. ESPN has been far from innocent in the conference realignment saga and would benefit from discord among members of the new Big East.
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