College Basketball: How Conference Realignment Killed the Big East

Zack LessnerCorrespondent IIJanuary 31, 2013

LOUISVILLE, KY - JANUARY 19: Chane Behanan #21 of the Louisville Cardinals goes to the basket against Brandon Triche #20 of the Syracuse Orange during the game at KFC Yum! Center on January 19, 2013 in Louisville, Kentucky. Syracuse defeated Louisville 70-68. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

On September 18, 2011, the Atlantic Coast Conference made an announcement that changed the future of College Basketball.

Longtime Big East members Pittsburgh and Syracuse decided to abandon their conference in favor of the ACC. This move is set to take place in the 2013-2014 season, leaving the former basketball powerhouse conference in total dismay.

Then later in October of 2011, West Virginia decided to leave the Big East in favor of the Big 12.

The Mountaineers ended up combining with the Big 12 to pay their former conference $20 million, so that their move could be effective for the 2012 season.

Once the first big moves were made, nothing was going to stop the rest of the major Big East teams from jumping ship.

The conference lost another valued member Notre Dame to the ACC on September 12. The Irish agreed to join them in all sports besides football.

After Maryland accepted an invitation to the Big 10 on November 19, 2012, Rutgers quickly followed in their footsteps, joining a day later.

The knockout blow for the Big East came on November 28when Louisville filled in Maryland’s vacancy, accepting an invitation to join the ACC in 2014.

While minor schools such as Temple, UCF, Memphis and the University of Houston were added to make up for the schools that have left or are planning to, they do not compensate for the loss of the major programs that made the Big East an elite conference in the first place.

The Big East is and will no longer be elite.

While most decisions to leave were driven from a moneymaking (football) standpoint, the chaos of the past few years has prevented the Big East from ever becoming a prominent football conference. The conference had been set to gain major football programs TCU in 2012 and Boise St in 2013, but the destruction of the conference has led both of those schools to change their decisions and are now not going to join the Big East.

This unfortunate situation became apparent to the remaining Big East members, and they were forced with a tough decision: remain in the Big East or find a new home.

Left with few options, seven non-football Big East members decided to leave on December 15 to create their own conference, beginning in 2015.

The seven members, DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall and Villanova, are all Catholic schools. They may ultimately decide to add additional Catholic schools and create a full Catholic league.

Besides ruining one of the top college basketball conferences, the breakup of the Big East also means the end to many rivalries.

Villanova will no longer be able to compete with Pitt regularly, and the Backyard Brawl has already ended between Pitt and West Virginia.

Most importantly, the historic rivalry between Georgetown and Syracuse will come to a crashing halt, ruining one of the greatest clashes in all of college basketball.

For the next two years, while the Big East is still barely in tact, the absence of a perennial contender like Syracuse will leave the remaining teams with no major game to look forward to.

With the Big East crumbling down, bad news is spelled out for any school that has kept loyal to the conference.

When the big money came calling, even the powerhouse teams succumbed to the temptation, spoiling what was once college basketball's premier conference.