Conference realignment has taken several charter members, and reportedly the league name, from the Big East conference. The Big East has worked feverishly to hold together as West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Louisville, and Rutgers all found new homes in other conferences while seven nonfootball schools -- the "Catholic 7"; DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall and Villanova -- have decided to form their own league.
Three schools -- Connecticut, Cincinnati and South Florida -- have been left behind. According to a report from Mark Blaudschun, longtime sportswriter for the Dallas Morning News and Boston Globe, those schools might be eligible to receive a big payday thanks to the sum of exit fees collected by the conference.
Big East leaders met Friday afternoon in Atlanta to discuss, among other things, the withdrawal of the Catholic 7. No deals regarding the new basketball-centric league or reported sale of the "Big East" name were finalized, but Blaudschun reports that the current "football faction" will have a cash fund of "close to $100 million for distribution."
The $100 million total is a combination of nearly 70 million dollars the Big East has and will collect in exit fee money from schools that have left or have announced they are leaving and another total of approximately $30 million which will come to the Big East offices from the NCAA as "unit" shares for conference teams participation in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
According to sources, the Big East football faction has presented the Catholic 7 group consisting of St. John’s, DePaul, Providence, Marquette, Seton Hall, Georgetown and Villanova with a lump sum offer of between 10 and 15 million dollars.
The Catholic 7 isreportedly asking for approximately $35 million in payouts, so where that $100 million figure for the current Big East schools is far from official at this point.
But after paying the Catholic 7, along with a small sum for the recently added and future Big East schools -- SMU, Houston, Memphis, Central Florida, Temple, Tulane, and East Carolina -- the league will reportedly sign hefty checks for Connecticut, Cincinnati, and South Florida.
After payments and operating costs, Blaudschun estimated that each school could make between $18 million and $25 million once the settlement is reached.
Multiple reports from Friday's Big East meetings reinforced the fact that nothing was finalized in the discussions. Certain aspects, like the sale of the Big East name and total amount of NCAA tournament "unit" money, will take more time to hammer out in the coming months. The Catholic 7 is reportedly pushing for a July 1 withdrawal, so expect more on this topic in the coming weeks.
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