Just 16 days ago, Tulane was celebrating a monumental day in the school's history. The Green Wave were moving from Conference USA to the Big East with the chance for more national exposure and television dollars.
“We were all very happy,” said David Munn, a Tulane booster for 40 years and president of the St. Bernard Parish Green Wave Club. “We had our boosters from the Northeast calling here.”
Now, not only is the Big East in jeopardy of dissolving completely, Tulane is getting blasted as one of the reasons the seven Catholic basketball schools are looking for a new home. Marquette AD Larry Williams said he's disappointed the Big East added Tulane.
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If Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco can't patch the Big East together, it's conceivable a few former Conference USA schools will be lost in realignment translation, without a viable conference to rescue them. Conference USA already will be a 14-team conference stretching 10 states in 2014.
It's not Tulane's fault the basketball programs are unhappy, Munn said.
“We got an invitation, we thought it was a good one and we took it.” Munn said. “I can understand the frustration, but they should be angry at the founding members of the Big East who left. They were being carried by these big schools with big followings.”
Munn is referring to defections of Pitt, Syracuse, Boston College and Louisville in recent years.
Tulane athletics director Rick Dickson was not available for comment Thursday.
Several Big East peers might face a similar situation as Tulane: This is not what we signed up for.
Led by Boise State, a group of eight football schools spent years preparing mentally and financially to join a so-called big conference, with access to the largest television pots and premier basketball.
They landed invites to the Big East when the Big East was a BCS conference. Now they are watching it take blows to the body weekly.
Two Mountain West defections -- Boise and San Diego State -- might be feeling like Roy McAvoy in Tin Cup asking for a new ball after sinking one in the water on 18.
Six Conference USA defections -- South Florida, Central Florida, Southern Methodist, East Carolina, Memphis, Tulane -- must be wondering what to do if the Big East dissolves.
The recent additions and the long-time members looking to leave have something in common -- they were promised television dollars that, by most accounts, aren't there.
Boise State agreed to join the Big East when annual television projections were set at $8 to $10 million per school. As CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd reports, defections of Louisville and the basketball schools could decrease that number to around $4.2 million per school.
Meanwhile, leftover Big East members UConn, USF and Cincinnati have made known publicly or privately they'd prefer the ACC.
Unless Aresco pulls off an upset, the money's not going to be much better than from where these schools came.
Aresco's plans to visit New York for television negotiations were derailed this week by the imminent basketball defections, and resuming talks don't sound promising.
“I think the television negotiations are over,” one industry source said. “What are you going to negotiate?”
Boise will be viable regardless of conference, but one conference commissioner interviewed for this story said others might not be so lucky.
“I think there's every possibility that that could be the case,” said the commissioner about schools being forced into no man's land, possibly independence. “I don't know what they do. They've made commitments but could be unable to fulfill them.”
Munn isn't thinking that far ahead.
“The Big East will remain,” Munn said. “We're not sure what it will constitute, but it still has viability.”