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College Basketball Insider

Big East's non-football members meet, discuss possible breakaway

Faced with an uncertain future and the reality that the Big East's next television deal won't be as lucrative as it once projected, officials from the Big East's seven non-football members met in New York within the past 48 hours and discussed, among other things, the possibility of breaking away from the Big East's football-playing members, a source confirmed to CBSSports.com.

The meeting was first reported by Mark Blaudschun.

SI.com's Pete Thamel is reporting that Big East commissioner Mike Aresco attended.

This development comes less than a week after CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd reported that the Big East's next TV deal could be worth as little as $60 million annually, meaning the league's seven non-football members -- Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall, Villanova and DePaul -- will make a fraction of what they figured to make before Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Rutgers and Louisville announced within the past 15 months that they're leaving the Big East. Considering TV revenue has long been viewed as the only tangible reason for the non-football members to remain affiliated with the football-playing members, last week's report combined with the possibility of additional changes has the non-football members now exploring other options. One possibility, a source said, is the non-football members forming a basketball-only league and perhaps inviting other relevant basketball schools without FBS-level football programs to join them -- schools like Butler, VCU, Xavier, Saint Louis, Dayton, George Mason and Creighton.

How much TV revenue could a league like that generate?

The answer is unclear.

But it probably wouldn't be significantly less than the roughly $1 million per year Dodd's report suggests the non-football members might get from the deal Aresco is currently trying to negotiate, and, just as important, a new basketball-only league wouldn't force schools like Georgetown and Marquette to water-down their schedules and blow their budgets playing against and traveling to schools like Tulane and Houston. In the end, that's what the non-football members must decide -- whether a few hundred-thousand dollars per year from a TV contract is worth them remaining part of a league they no longer recognize. A source said a decision, one way or another, is expected before July 1, i.e., the date Memphis, Houston, UCF and SMU are scheduled to join the Big East as all-sports members.


Gary Parrish is a senior college basketball columnist for CBSSports.com and frequent contributor to the CBS Sports Network. The Mississippi native also hosts the highest-rated sports talk radio show -- The Gary Parrish Show -- in the history of Memphis. He lives in that area with his wife, two children and a dog.
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