Andy Lyons

Everything you need to know about conference realignment

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UConn set to get $30 million payday from C7 split

It appears the Big East and the Catholic Seven have finally finalized an early divorce and it's going to come with a nice parting gift for UConn: $30 million.

The Big East had about $110 million in its war chest (built up from exit fees, entry fees and NCAA tournament money) and in exchange for an early departure the Seven agreed to only take $10 million of it, according to the AP. That left $100 million to be split among the Big East Three (UConn, Cincinnati and USF), along with new members and league costs, and it looks like the Three will be keeping almost all of it.

How much? Thirty million dollars each according to Mark Blaudschun, which is $10 million more than the sort of amounts that were being speculated about as recently as yesterday. That's a massive payday for UConn, which is only going to get about $2 million a year in their future conference. Although the Huskies will still be looking for a home in another conference, this sort of payday will help stop them from being at a funding disadvantage with their old conference mates for at least a couple of years, and put them up significantly over the Big East's incoming members.

It's sad to say goodbye to rivals like Georgetown, Villanova and the rest of the Seven a year early, but for this much money UConn should be thrilled to do it.


Report: Catholic Seven to leave in July 2013

Well, that was fast. After rumblings surfaced online in the past 24 hours, it now looks like the Catholic Seven will be moving up their departure to this July, according to a report from Mark Blaudschun at A Jersey Guy. Blaudschun says an announcement is expected in the next few days and that the Catholic schools will be taking the Big East name with them.

In exchange for leaving two years earlier than the scheduled departure date of July 2015, the Catholic 7, who will not attend the Atlanta meeting, would agree to take considerably less money from a reserve pool of conference money earned by the Big East from exit fees and NCAA basketball tournament shares which is reported to be in excess of 60 million dollars.

The financial details of this arrangement still must be worked out, but both sides appear ready to announce that the Catholic 7 group will leave in July and take the Big East name with them.

If there is a snag in their plans the Catholics would stick around through 2014, but Blaudschun's sources seem to think that is unlikely.

This, on balance, would appear to work out for UConn in the short run. Sure, they won't get another crack at Georgetown or Marquette next season, but they seem to be in line for a bigger payday, and with the upcoming TV contract squeeze getting that money is probably a priority. It shouldn't change what football was expecting for next year as Rutgers and Louisville will still be around, but it will leave whatever the New Big East is going to be called as a 10-team basketball league, which will be a very different look from the mammoth Big East. We'll have more as we hear it.


Could the Catholic Seven be leaving this July?

When the Catholic Seven announced their inevitable departure from the Big East a few months back, the common wisdom was that they were most likely to stay in the conference through the 2014 season and then form their new league as Notre Dame and Louisville also left. Now, thanks to a series of reports over the last 24 hours, it seems possible that the Catholic Seven could move their departure up a year and start their new league in July 2013.

From A Jersey Guy last night:

[A]ccording to multiple sources within the Big East, the break away by the Catholic 7 group of schools could start next July and would include the Big East name.


Big East officials are willing to make this move for 2013 -and sell the Big East name-if enough money is paid to the remaining conference schools.


"Both sides have a feeling that it is time to move on to the future," said one Big East source. "Both 2013 and 2014 are being discussed, but it's just a matter of how much the group of schools that are leaving are willing to pay (to leave early)."

And here was Andy Katz this morning:

The seven non-FBS Big East schools have always wanted to exit for the 2013-14 season if they could get out in time and the TV deal -- with Fox -- was done. The problem is they can't and don't want to leave, according to a high-level source within the seven, until they have secured the other three schools to be a 10-team league. The seven are confident, though, that they can extract three schools (likely Butler, Xavier and one other) on short notice. The Atlantic 10 confirmed that it would cost each school $2 million to get out early, money that won't be an issue for the seven and Fox to offset. The logistics of setting up a league, including soccer in August, are what could keep the seven in the Big East until the fall of 2014.

And now the Providence Journal has chimed in:

Various reports Thursday say that the so-called Catholic Seven schools, including Providence College, are nearing an agreement with the Big East on dividing millions of dollars, a separation date and control over items like the Madison Square Garden post-season contract and the Big East name itself.

No one would confirm how close an agreement is on all those issues but an announcement could come as early as Friday.

There's obviously a lot to be worked out, and the Seven would need to both invite a handful of new members and establish the framework of a conference in just a few short months, but the uptick in chatter sure makes a quick move seem like something they think is possible. If it does happen it shouldn't change anything for UConn football next year (Louisville is still locked in, as they can't go to the ACC until Maryland does), but basketball would suddenly find itself playing in a much smaller 10-team league.

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