Sunday, April 21, 2013

Resolution of Big East Break-Up into "New" Big East and American Athletic Conference

I'm a little behind on this one. But after months of unfolding developments, the break-up of what has been known for nearly 35 years as the Big East Conference has been worked out. For starters, it should be noted that some of the top Big East basketball schools, including this year's men's national champion Louisiville, and Syracuse and Pitt, are in the process of moving to the Atlantic Coast Conference. Also, Rutgers is going to the Big 10.

As shown in the following diagram, the remaining Big East schools (and some set to join) will be splitting into two conferences. Shown in blue are what had been widely referred to as the "Catholic 7" (some of the Big East's longest-term members, whose athletic programs are focused on basketball), plus like-minded schools Creighton, Xavier, and Butler, who will be coming on board (Butler is private, like the other schools, but not Catholic-affiliated). This group will retain the name Big East.

The other schools, shown in red, consist of "leftover" schools from the current Big East, plus newly joining schools (mostly from Conference USA). Tulsa is a very recent addition. These schools will be known as the American Athletic Conference (AAC). My preferred name for this new conference would have been the "Big Triangle," as one would get from tracing the shape from Connecticut to Texas to Florida, to encompass all the schools. 

Schools in the new AAC play football in the NCAA's top classification (known as the Football Bowl Subdivision and formerly Division I-A) and have enjoyed various degrees of success on the gridiron. None of them would be considered among college football's elite, however.

I see the new Big East as being very stable, as it essentially is a new incarnation of a league that has been around since 1979, with a similar culture as the original.

In contrast, I would be very surprised if the American Athletic looked the same in five years as it does today. In general, circuits with large geographic distances between members have tended to be volatile. UConn and Cincinnati have been known to covet membership in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Further, though it may not currently seem likely, the two Texas schools, Southern Methodist (Dallas) and the University of Houston, conceivably could find themselves in the Big 12 (which currently has 10 institutions). U-of-H is building a new football stadium, which can only help the Cougars' prospects for joining the Big 12.

1 comment:

  1. Actually, the current Big East entity will merely change its name to the American Athletic Conference and keep its business operations, organization/bylaws, and the NCAA board seats and full 3-share voting rights.

    The Catholic 7 will depart the Big East Conference on June 30th, and the conference will change it's name to The American on July 1st.

    The remaining conference members Connecticut, Cincinnati, Temple, South Florida, Louisville and Rutgers will be joined by previously announced Big East expansion members Central Florida, Houston, Southern Methodist, and Memphis in the renamed American conference.

    Louisville and Rutgers will depart when the Big Ten and ACC need them (following the conclusion of the Maryland lawsuit, likely in-time for a July 1st, 2014 transition), but they will be replaced by East Carolina, Tulane, and Tulsa. Navy already an American member, won't begin conference play until 2015.

    Part of the agreement for the Catholic 7's departure from the original Big East was they'd give up any claim/right to the hundred million or so in exit fees and NCAA credits of the other recently departed/departing schools in exchange for the right to use the Big East name on their new basketball conference, which will officially begin in the eyes of the NCAA on August 1st.

    The new basketball conference has the potential for some elite basketball, even without the likes of Syracuse, UConn, Cincy, Louisville, and etc because of the additions of Butler, Xavier, and Creighton. The Catholic 7 members however will see a downgrade in organizational clout as the new Big East is being classified as a mid-major (non-football) basketball conference and along with it only 1.1 votes on NCAA issues.