On Thursday, the Division I Board of Directors officially recognized the revamped Big East Conference as a Division I multi-sport conference. The “new” ten-team conference consisting of Butler University, Creighton University, Xavier University, and the “Catholic 7” will be in effect on August 1.
The split of the “old” sixteen-school Big East occurred earlier this spring following a tumultuous period of conference realignment, with schools and regions banding together to create media strongholds to drive more television revenue from major college sporting events. With a number of “super conferences” emerging over the last couple years, the Big East has been in an awkward position, with half of its members being smaller, non-football schools.
Earlier this year, the “Catholic 7” won the rights to keep the Big East name, and maintained the ability to use Madison Square Garden for their annual basketball tournament, which historically has been among the most-watched in the country. The conference will be able to grab a hefty sum for their television rights, with less monetary dilution due to having fewer members.
The Board also noted that on July 1, the current Big East Conference will change its name to the American Athletic Conference. That conference will maintain its positions within the governance structure. These schools will get the majority ($100 million) of the $110 million Big East reserve fund that has been collected primarily from exit fees paid by several recently-departed member institutions.
We saw some other conference movements this year, including Maryland and Rutgers joining the Big Ten, as well as Louisville and Notre Dame joining the ACC (Notre Dame will maintain its status as an “Independent” in football).
Members of the “new” Big East:
Members of the American Athletic Conference:
Louisville (only 2013-14 season)
Rutgers (only 2013-14 season)
Future members: East Carolina (2014), Tulane (2014), Tulsa (2014), Navy (2015, football only)