Big East realignment: 'Catholic 7' could move to break away Friday

Georgetown, a charter member of the Big East, may be one to lead the charge out of the conference. Photo: Associated Press

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Xavier University and Butler University will reportedly be joining the Catholic 7 schools that are breaking away from the Big East, according to Michael Hunt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The Musketeers and Bulldogs, who both play in the Atlantic 10, may be joined by either one or three other schools to form a new, 10-12 team, basketball-centric conference. Those teams are reportedly Creighton, Virginia Commonwealth, Dayton, and St. Louis.

Georgetown, St. Johns, Seton Hall, Marquette, Providence, DePaul, and Villanova decided to break away from the Big East on Thursday night, after years of friction between the basketball and football sides of the conference and a revolving door of Big East football membership. The addition of Tulane earlier this fall was reportedly the breaking point for the basketball schools to pursue forming their own conference.

The addition of Xavier and Butler, who has been to two consecutive Final Fours, would make the new basketball conference one of the best in the nation. The new league is expected to begin play next season.

The Hoyas will reportedly be joined in their departure by the six other Catholic members of the conference. The official announcement is expected after the seven schools decide how to proceed.

At the moment, there would be a two-year waiting period and no exit fee involved with the decision to leave the Big East. They could negotiate a deal which would allow them to depart early, but they also have enough votes to dissolve the league should they so choose. The Catholic Seven were reportedly upset by the loss of television money, in addition to the departure of several traditional rivals.

The New York Post has sources claiming that the seven departing schools will look to join forces with some of the Atlantic 10, but does not know if they would look to form a 21-team conference by joining the current 14 teams, or break up the current Atlantic 10 group.

Georgetown was one of the original Big East schools when the conference was founded in 1979, along with Syracuse, St. John's, Connecticut, Providence, Seton Hall and Boston College.