Big East Conference: Reported Split Creates Big Opportunities for Mid-Majors

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIDecember 13, 2012

Butler and Xavier are among the marquee mid-majors that may be joining a new basketball conference featuring seven Big East schools.
Butler and Xavier are among the marquee mid-majors that may be joining a new basketball conference featuring seven Big East schools.Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Multiple reports indicate that the Big East conference will split, with the seven non-football schools leaving the powerhouse and looking to add several more basketball exclusive teams to the fold.

That would create big opportunities for mid-major programs, which would join DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall and Villanova in this prospective new league.

This new development could be called a spin-off, but it would not imply knockoff competition.

In fact, if the alleged schools on the radar of those creating this new, exclusively basketball Big East conference are indeed accurate, it could change the landscape of the sport.

According to an all-encompassing report by Gary Parrish of, the teams that would be targeted to join the seven other Big East schools in this new, exciting conference include Butler, Xavier, Creighton, Dayton and St. Louis.

While there would be much to work out in terms of TV contracts, the high-profile nature of the Big East suggests that these mid-major schools would have unprecedented national exposure and funding for their respective programs.

The profile of these universities would suddenly heighten, making recruiting to these schools far easier.

For exceptional players who couldn't quite make it to the NBA factories of Kentucky or traditional Big East powerhouses, more resources and funding would be available to smaller, successful schools to build teams that consistently make the Big Dance.

This potential dissolving of the league would arguably water down the competition in the Big East.

But as Sporting News reports, the conference is becoming increasingly convoluted with teams, and this potential split—at least in the short-term—takes away what some consider the unattractive possibility of the super conference:

The Big East has been desperately trying to keep the league together for football purposes by adding several schools to full and football-only memberships. Houston, SMU, Memphis, Central Florida and Tulane are set to join as full Big East members. Boise State, San Diego State, East Carolina and Navy are set to join as football-only members.

The added emphasis on football interests over basketball is a big reason why this split is allegedly occurring, since the seven departing schools don't have Division I-A football programs. This is skewing TV deals and revenue splits in favor of football, which obviously doesn't work in the favor of basketball-only schools.

With the autonomy from their rivals whose focus is solely on the gridiron, these separating Big East schools could negotiate business deals in favor of their own interests without having to worry about football.

The targeted schools don't have Division I-A football either, and joining a slew of programs with such high national distinction would only help their cause in building viable long-term success.

With $10 million exit fees at stake for each departing Big East school, and with many complex legal ramifications, it would be challenging to figure out the entangled mess this situation could become.

However, the mid-major schools have to be extremely enthused about the potential of merging with more elite competition, which would improve their standing nationally and help raise the competition the teams would face throughout the season.

The move would only help to enhance the mid-major programs' marketability, profitability and viability in the years to come.