ESPN: Xavier will join 'Catholic 7' in new 'Big East' next season
Casey Weldon, WCPO Digital
9:27 PM, Feb 28, 2013
3:11 AM, Mar 1, 2013
Xavier University is expected join the "Catholic 7" in a newly configured Big East Conference next season, according to multiple ESPN sources.
According to the ESPN report that surfaced Thursday evening, Xavier will join DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall and Villanova in the new league, which is expected to retain the conference name.
Butler is also expected to join the league, the sources said, and Creighton is a frontrunner to become the 10th team. Both schools would join the conference for the 2013-2014 season.
Dayton and St. Louis are expected to be added to the conference in 2014 to complete the 12-team league.
According to ESPN's Andy Katz, Xavier and Butler will each owe the Atlantic 10 $2 million because they are required to provide a year's notice before leaving the league.
While the price tag for leaving the league would be hefty, the Fox Sports Network is going to soften the economic blow. The article reports that the TV network will pay $3 million annually per school.
Fox Sports Network is expected to announce the addition of the Catholic 7/Big East basketball league Tuesday in New York as part of the network's news conference announcing the addition of two new Fox Sports channels, according to ESPN.
In the past two years, 16 schools have left or announced they were leaving the Big East, including Notre Dame, which would reportedly consider staying with the Catholic 7-plus schools for the 2013-14 season if it is unable to join the Atlantic Coast Conference in non-football sports next year. The school would still plan to join the ACC the following year.
The deal will also affect Big East holdovers Cincinnati, Connecticut and South Florida, which will be the only three current members of the conference not committed to either the new "Big East" or another conference.
Existing in conference limbo could cost each of the schools millions of dollars.
Last week, ESPN retained the Big East's media-rights deal by matching a seven-year, $130 million offer from NBC Sports Network. The deal includes $10 million for the 2013-14 basketball season, sources said, but if the Catholic 7 schools are not in the Big East in 2013-14, that $10 million amount would be reduced.
The remainder of the deal is not dependent on the Catholic 7's membership and would not change, sources said. That portion of the deal is worth about $20 million a year from 2014-2020.
The Big East's presidents still must vote and approve on the media-rights deal. The Big East's presidents and athletic directors meet Friday beginning at 11 a.m. in Atlanta.