Multiple sources are reporting that the presidents of the seven Catholic, basketball-focused institutions of the Big East released a statement today officially announcing their departure from that league. The statement reads:
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. 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.
We look forward to building this new foundation with an emphasis on elite competition and a commitment to the development of our students engaged in intercollegiate athletics. That is where we will now spend our energy as we move forward.
What the next step in the process will be is unclear at this time. It's not certain whether this means the dissolution of the conference, or that the Catholic Seven will have to pay the departure fee to move forward. Even if the conference is dissolving, the question of how the money from previously committed departures will be divided is still at hand. And - don't kid yourselves - this is a move that is almost wholly brought about by financial concerns. As the Big East moved from their basketball roots to the cash cow that currently is college football, the seeds for this day were sown. The Big East once dominated the NCAA basketball landscape. Now it's done for.
Big East basketball era as we knew it is officially over. I guess nothing really is forever.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) December 15, 2012
Where this leaves Xavier is also - for the moment - unclear. Rest assured, though, pieces will start moving. The New York Post is reporting that the A-10 presidents are meeting next week to "solidify the commitments" of their members. It's no secret that a number of the most attractive teams to join the new league are in the Atlantic Ten, with Xavier topping the list. Seth Davis seems to think that this is the beginning of the end for the A10 as we know it.
Now that these guys have broken away they can start acting like a conference and... steal teams from other leagues. See ya, A10.— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) December 15, 2012
Update 3:26pm: ESPN's Brett McMurphy sets the timeframe.
7 hoops schools can leave Big East June 30, 2015 w/out paying exit fee. To leave earlier would have to negotiate fee w/Big East— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) December 15, 2012