Report: 'Catholic 7' banking on big payday with new TV deal

Reportedly, the Catholic 7 stands to earn more than $4 million per school with a new TV deal. (US Presswire)

They said it was about the basketball, but of course it was just as much about the money.

You couldn't have expected the "Catholic 7" -- the seven non-FBS football members of the Big East, who met formally on Friday -- to split off from the league without the promise and prospect of a bigger payday. And now it's looking like that's the case, according to a report Saturday night from ESPN.com.

Darren Rovell's story states the seven Catholic schools are anticipating to rake in at least double the dough from what they earn in their current TV contracts with the Big East. Having a league of basketball-only schools is nice and pure -- and a move not seen until now amid the chaos of conference realignment over the past three years -- but this is optimistic news beyond all wholesome visions of hoops because we're dealing with big, big money in relation to modern college hoops TV deals.

Sources say that Fox, whose Fox Sports 1 channel is set to launch in August, has an initial high offer on the table of more than $500 million for a 12-year deal. Fox Sports 1 will replace the network's motorsports channel Speed, already in 81 million homes. Sources say officials with Fox are scheduled to meet with those representing the interest of the "Catholic 7" in New York City on Wednesday. A Fox spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment. A high-ranking source at NBC Sports Network, which has so far engaged in preliminary discussions with the "Catholic 7," declined comment. ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz also declined comment on the network's interest in the "Catholic 7" games.

The Big East's deal, which the Catholic 7 is sheltered under, comes to an end when the 2012-13 season does. ESPN.com's report states the schools at hand bring in between $2 and $3 million under the current contract, meaning, minimally -- if the report is accurate -- the Georgetowns, DePauls, Marquettes and so on would theoretically make $4-$5 million each with a new television partner in their new league.

The Catholic 7 schools would split their shares evenly, then eventually determine and distribute the remaining portion to the to-be-decided schools who will get invites to join the league in due time. (Creighton, Butler, VCU, Xavier, Dayton: just some of the possibilities, but we have no surefire school believed to be joining the mix just yet.)

Details of how/when the Catholic 7 will split from the Big East -- and even if it gets to take the "Big East"name with them -- are still yet to be determined. But now we know there is a demand out there, one that's bigger than we've ever seen before for a basketball-only league.


For more college basketball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnCBB on Twitter, like us on Facebook and subscribe to the thrice-a-week podcast on iTunes. You can follow Matt Norlander on Twitter here: @MattNorlander.

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his seventh season covering college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics and... Full Bio

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