Big East Basketball: The Catholic Seven Vote to Leave the Big East

Matt BarbatoCorrespondent IDecember 13, 2012

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 18: Head coach John Thompson III of the Georgetown Hoyas signals from the bench against the North Carolina State Wolfpack in the first half during the third round of the 2012 NCAA Men's basketball tournament at Nationwide Arena on March 18, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

After several days of murmurings about a potential split from the Big East, the seven Catholic Big East schools have voted to leave the conference.

The news was reported on SportsCenter late Thursday afternoon.

The seven Catholic schools—DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall and Villanova had a teleconference with Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco Thursday morning, and according to an article from Andy Katz, the schools were planning to decide their fate within 24 to 48 hours.

The decision came much sooner than anyone expected.

What does this mean?

Well, it's uncertain what the seven schools will actually do.

Earlier in the week, the Atlantic 10 conference announced that it would be willing to add the seven former Big East teams into its conference, creating a 21 team super-conference with a 20 game conference schedule.

Another option for the schools is to create their own conference, and attempt to recruit other Catholic schools such as Xavier, Creighton or Saint Louis to join them and become an all-Catholic basketball conference.

As for the Big East?

Losing the seven schools that had stuck it out through all of the previous departures will be a costly blow.

In Katz's article, an industry source said that the loss of the Catholic schools could reduce the value of the league's media rights by "15 to 20 percent."

The important thing to note is that the conference is not being dissolved, or at least not yet.

Houston, SMU, Memphis, UCF and Tulane are still planning to join the conference as full members, while Boise State, San Diego State, East Carolina and Navy will join as football-only schools.

The landscape of college basketball—and the Big East conference especially—has changed dramatically, and the "Catholic Seven" could not leave their heads buried in the sand any longer.

Aresco failed them, and did not supply any nearly adequate replacements for the basketball powerhouses the Big East was losing.

The Big East Catholic schools have finally had enough.

Whether they form their own conference, or join another, chances are they will face far better competition, and could make a lot of revenue from television deals.

Meanwhile, the conference they are leaving behind will have to try and pick up the pieces once again.