The Atlantic 10 May Add Big East Basketball Schools

The news just keeps getting worse by the day it seems for the Big East Conference.

ESPN is reporting that the Atlantic 10 is considering adding the seven Big East Catholic schools to the conference. The addition would give the Atlantic 10 a 21 team league, and would be a good solution for the basketball-only Big East schools who are looking for the best possible television deal.

The 21-team model would occur if the A-10 were to add the seven Big East Catholic schools (Marquette, DePaul, Georgetown, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John’s and Villanova) that met Sunday in New York with Big East commissioner Mike Aresco to go over their options.

The seven Big East Catholic schools are attempting to secure the best television deal possible and are debating whether to split from the league.

The seven schools have a majority over the three remaining FBS members in Connecticut, Cincinnati and South Florida.

By renegotiating their TV contract, the Big East will likely have a much smaller deal for the rights to their broadcasts with the defections of West Virginia, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, and Louisville over the past year. The conference replaces the defections with teams like Boise State, Tulane, East Carolina, and San Diego State amongst others.

It is interesting to note that one of the major problems schools like Marquette, Georgetown, Villanova, Providence, Seton Hall, St. Johns, and Depaul have is the addition of Tulane to the conference. Tulane has an absolutely terrible athletics program, and was likely added to gain the New Orleans market for the conference. The seven schools appear to take issue with what the Tulane basketball program would do to the conference’s RPI.

If these schools leave the conference, the Big East is all but nonexistent going further (even more so than it already is). Should the Atlantic 10 add these schools, other schools like Boise State and San Diego State will undoubtedly look to go elsewhere, and we could see the Big East dissolved. The conference was in grave trouble already, and this just could be the knockout blow that many thought would eventually come with the conference against the ropes.

I think it is ironic that the leadership of the conference may just be the ones to deliver the final blow to the conference. People from Providence like John Marinatto, who did absolutely nothing while the Big East crumbled, will have his school be a huge reason for the Big East’s demise should these schools defect. The decisions that were made that put basketball first in a football world absolutely killed the Big East, and a decision from schools like Providence to jump to a potential better basketball situation is all too fitting in the dissolving of the Big East should it happen.

The league would dissolve with the schools’ vote, but according to ESPN these basketball-only schools don’t have the majority of the vote.

But the schools don’t have the two-thirds vote to dissolve the league since Temple athletic director Bill Bradshaw told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the Owls are a full voting member, even though they don’t join in all sports until July 1, 2013.

Industry sources say they couldn’t see how or why Temple would side with the seven Catholic schools to vote to dissolve the league.

I loved the Big East like many others. I believe that even after realignment is complete, there will never be a better conference for college basketball than what the Big East conference has been. It was something very special that will never be replicated. But the Big East did this to themselves. People can cry foul and traitor to Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Rutgers, West Virginia, and Louisville, but following this fiasco of a conference for even just the past two years would show a casual observer what a mess the leadership at the top is.

I don’t see how these seven schools don’t jump all over this if given the opportunity. This is by far the best deal they are going to get, and will join an established basketball conference that will become much more legitimate with the addition of those schools. The A10 already has previous final four teams in VCU ad Butler, and also have a perennial top 25 school in Xavier. Will the A10 be the old Big East? Absolutely not. But this is the best these schools can get without division 1 football schools, and I don’t see them rejecting an invitation should it come their way.


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