Catholic 7: New Potential TV Deal Good Sign for Future of College Basketball

Tim KeeneyContributor IJanuary 6, 2013

Mar 3, 2012; Milwaukee, WI, USA; A Big East banner is displayed during the game between the Georgetown Hoyas and Marquette Golden Eagles at the Bradley Center.  Marquette defeated Georgetown 83-69.  Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Apparently the abrupt end of the Big East isn't such a bad thing for college basketball after all. 

That hardly seemed the case a month ago, when it was announced that seven Catholic schools—DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall and Villanova—would join West Virginia, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Rutgers and Notre Dame as defectors from the conference.

Suddenly, the conference that was the most loaded in the world just two years ago would suddenly be no more.

The epic Madison Square Garden tournaments in March would be done for.

The six-overtime thrillers, the Eric Devendorf (near) buzzer-beaters, the hard-nosed defensive battles, the Kemba Walker crossovers, the moments that, at times, carried college basketball—all gone.

For a sport that was quickly falling further behind college football in the popularity contest, the dissolution of the Big East felt like a death sentence. 

But according to ESPN's Darren Rovell, the "Catholic Seven" may still save the day:

The seven Catholic schools that plan to leave the Big East to form their own basketball conference expect to double their money off a television deal, according to sources. 

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.

The report goes on to state that the seven Catholic schools, which are making somewhere between $2 million and $3 million on their current television contracts as non-football schools, would bring in somewhere around $5 million each on this new deal that would make even FDR jealous.  

Moreover, the "Catholic Seven" would "split the rest (of the money) among what ideally will become the other three-to-five schools that it adds to form a 10- to 12-team conference."

Well, then. Apparently these schools knew what they were doing the whole time. 

While it was originally thought the new conference would just be another version of the Atlantic 10 (a good but not great basketball conference), it's now apparent that the "Catholic Seven" has no intention of being anything less than the "new Big East."

Fox obviously sees things in the same light. With this potentially huge contract, the major network is not only assuring the survival of a sixth dominant conference—it is saying that college basketball still matters.

While closing the books on the Big East—a conference full of sensational history—is something no one ever wanted to see, the future of the "Catholic Seven" is bright.

As such, college basketball will remain the appealing, electrifying, dramatic entity it has always been.