DIVORCE PROCEEDINGS began in the fall. What looked like long negotiations on terms sped up quickly in the last week and, presto, much of the Old Guard Big East (aka the Catholic Seven) will be in the new Big East, which will start play this fall. They will have at least two new members, with three more on the way,
When the latest conference realignment is finalized, the Atlantic 10 will actually have just 10 teams, having gotten outflanked by football and overwhelmed by money from the new Fox Sports Network.
Villanova, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall and DePaul announced in the fall they were leaving the Big East to form a basketball-only league. As part of the divorce settlement, they will take the Big East name with them while leaving behind considerable money in the form of NCAA basketball units. Leagues get units for NCAA Tournament success by their teams.
It was expected they would play 1 more year in the "Big East," but, given the football schools and basketball schools really had nothing in common anymore, and the football schools had just finalized a TV contract with ESPN, it was time to end the broken marriage. So, they did the deal.
Villanova and its friends will be joined in the Big East next season by Xavier and Butler. Creighton could also join next season. It is likely that Dayton and Saint Louis will eventually join as well to form a 12-team league.
That has the potential to be such a nice basketball league that Fox Sports is ready to make a deal that could give each school $3 million per year. That was the lure that appealed to the four A-10 schools - Xavier, Butler, Dayton and Saint Louis.
Temple will be in a league that, at the moment, does not have a name. But it will play football and it does have an ESPN contract. It certainly will not be what it could have been, but it is better than what Temple had in the Mid-American Conference.
Saint Joseph's and La Salle will remain in what remains of the A-10. The league is having one of its greatest seasons. That will be one and done. The two city schools will be in a league with Richmond, VCU, Massachusetts (which may eventually end up in the same league as Temple to play football), St. Bonaventure, Fordham, George Washington, Rhode Island and Duquesne. This is not a league that will excite anybody so it will have to go fishing for schools that could bring more at-large bids and NCAA units.
It is not clear yet if the old/new Big East will play its tournament at Madison Square Garden, but it seems a pretty good bet that it will. Even though it has tilted strongly to the Midwest, the league still has a pretty strong eastern base, something Temple's league, with all those southern football teams, really does not.
By the way, if you are trying to make sense of any of this, don't. Just follow the money.