On Tuesday morning, University President Rev. Peter M. Donahue, O.S.A. issued a notice to students, faculty and staff informing them that the University has officially decided to leave the Big East Conference as it is currently constituted.
The University will join a new athletic conference effective at the beginning of the 2013-2014 academic year, and this conference will retain the Big East name.
Accompanying Villanova in the new Big East Conference will be DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall and St. John’s—the other six members of the group that has been commonly referred to as the “Catholic Seven.”
Butler, Xavier, and Creighton are three other schools rumored to be in talks with the Catholic Seven about joining the new conference.
Although it has been speculated for weeks that the Catholic Seven would break away from the current Big East, this move was not made official until the presidents of Big East schools gave their approval Tuesday morning.
Donahue expressed excitement about the University’s future in the new athletic setting, describing it as a framework that is “based on the common values and history of [the Catholic] universities.”
He also shared his enthusiasm regarding the Catholic Seven’s ability to retain the Big East name, considering the prestigious reputation this brand has garnered within the world of college athletics since its inception in 1979.
“The seven basketball schools, which include many of the original founding schools of the Big East, have unanimously established the goal of continuing the storied legacy and time-honored traditions of athletic competition so closely associated with the Big East, including being the home of the very best college basketball in the nation,” Donahue said.
This is yet another development in the confusing saga of conference realignment that continues to unfold within the Big East and the collegiate athletic landscape in general.
After Big East members such as Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Louisville made clear their intentions from the conference to pursue affiliation with more football-minded institutions, the Catholic Seven began exploring options to create a new conference that would showcase the rich basketball tradition boasted by its considerably smaller schools. Tuesday morning’s announcement is the culmination of this effort.
Many important details about the new Big East have yet to be determined. These include the location of the league’s headquarters, who will be appointed as the league commissioner, and the format of league play.
Additionally, the new conference is in talks with Fox and its Fox Sports 1 channel about striking a deal for its television rights, but this is not yet finalized.
However, the fact that the Catholic Seven has finally solidified a new, promising future in collegiate athletics is quite a momentous achievement for the group, as well as the University.
“We knew when we made this decision it was the right thing to do,” Donahue said. “It allows us to control our future, position our programs to compete for conference and national championships, and further advance the goals of our University.”