The breakaway basketball schools kept the Big East name and the conference tournament in Madison Square Garden. In return, they left at the behind tens of millions of dollars to the football members.
That was easy to do with a lucrative television deal waiting for.
The new Big East launched as a 10-member league with the additions of Butler, Creighton and Xavier and a 12-year deal with Fox. The agreement is worth about $500 million with the possibility of increasing to $600 million were the league to add more members, according to a person with knowledge of the details. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the value of the contract wasn’t revealed.
The so-called Catholic 7 colleges finished their exit from the Big East earlier this month. They’ll start play with their 3 new colleagues in the fall.
Providence’s president, the Rev. Brian Shanley, was a student from college when its athletic director, Dave Gavitt, spearheaded the creation of the Big East in 1979. The conference’s name was proposed by his father’s marketing firm.
”This name is bold. This name is strong. This name is memorable,” Shanley said. ”That’s why it has been critical for us to keep that name and keep that legacy going.”
Providence, Georgetown, St. John’s, Villanova, Marquette, Seton Hall and DePaul broke away from the old conference looking for stability, which was badly lacking as the football members kept leaving for other leagues.
They feel they’ve found kindred spirits in Butler, Creighton and Xavier, all private schools with fewer than 8,000 students.
Creighton’s president, the Rev. Timothy Lannon, claimed an acceptable sentiment for a conference with only Butler as a non-Catholic member.
”This is a match made in heaven,” he revealed.
Oh, and these new schools can play basketball a little, too.
Creighton is in its 7th NCAA tournament in 13 years. Musketeers was one of only 8 schools in the country to make at least 7 straight NCAA appearances before missing out this season. Football scores
And Butler played in the national championship game in 2010 and ‘11.
The 3 new additions also expand the Big East’s presence in the Midwest.
Butler and Xavier are leaving the Atlantic Ten, while Creighton departs the Missouri Valley Conference.
Butler coach Brad Stevens’ name always comes up when high-profile jobs open. Now he will be working in the Big East.
”The idea of being able to go to the very highest level of conference is attractive,” said athletic director Barry Collier, who can speak from experience because he once left the Butler coaching job for a less-successful stint at Nebraska. ”In this case, we brought the attractive conference to Brad Stevens.”
The Bulldogs spent just one season in the A-10 after moving from the Horizon League.
”It is a great long-term move from the marketing viewpoint not just of the athletic program but the school,” Stevens said in Lexington, Ky., where 6th-seeded Butler faces Bucknell to open the NCAA tournament. ”The markets that we’re getting an opportunity to play in and the schools that we are getting a chance to be associated with obviously speak for themselves.