Realignment issues create questions about Big East’s future
Being a founding member of the Big East since 1979, Seton Hall is facing uncertainty along with the rest of the remaining schools in the conference after it was announced that Pittsburgh and Syracuse were leaving for the ACC on Sept. 17.
The departure of Pittsburgh and Syracuse leaves the Big East with 15 schools, with TCU joining next year but it seems as if more schools are looking at the possibility of leaving.
Connecticut has been mentioned as actively looking to follow Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC.
If Connecticut does make the move, it would most likely mean that a fourth team, possibly from the Big East will be headed to the ACC to give the conference an even 16 teams.
Rutgers has been mentioned to also move if Connecticut does but Louisville, Villanova and Cincinnati are also other possibilities according to Jon Rothstein on MSG.com.
These moves will not take effect until the 2014-2015 school year as the Big East bylaws require a 27 month notice period before departing from the conference along with a $5 million exit fee.
However, on Tuesday in a meeting between the Big East football schools, commissioner of the conference John Marinatto said that the remaining schools are committed to staying together.
“We have a track record of coming out stronger than we did before,” Marinatto said about conference realignment. “Obviously, the dynamics that are taking place within the college landscape today may create even greater opportunities for the conference to not only survive, but thrive.”
The moves send more questions as to what will happen to the Hall’s conference affiliation. However the questions now are different than what was reported earlier in the year.
Over the summer, the New York Post mentioned that Seton Hall could be one of the schools forced out of the Big East if more teams continued to join the conference, but now with schools leaving, the conference’s future in doubt.
“As a proud and loyal founding member of the Big East, Seton Hall has the utmost confidence in the conference’s ability to continue to grow and prosper in its role as one of the marquee NCAA conferences in the nation,” athletic director Patrick Lyons said in a statement. “As we have for 32 years, we profoundly support the Big East and embrace its future.”
Lyons stated earlier in the year to The Setonian that he had no intentions of leaving the Big East and that he would never allow Seton Hall to get dropped from the conference, but now it seems as if the conference will need Seton Hall if it is looking to survive.
If four schools do end up leaving, it would leave the conference with a total of 13 schools, perfectly fine for basketball but it would drop the Big East to five Football Bowl Subdivision schools.
However, the Big East is not the only other major conference having problems with schools bolting for other conferences.
The Big 12 lost Nebraska and Colorado last year, leaving them with 10 schools at the moment with more of their members actively exploring realignment possibilities.
The Big East is also actively looking to add schools to join the conference for football only, leaving the remaining sports as they are.
The Big East was created as a conference primarily for basketball and has shown success in the sport, sending a record 11 teams to the 2011 edition of the NCAA Tournament.
The departure of these schools damage prestige of conference as being one of the top basketball conferences in the country.
Last season Pittsburgh and Syracuse finished first and third respectively, with Connecticut winning the National Championship.
Seton Hall has a long history with Syracuse, both being founding members of the seven team conference, with Pittsburgh joining slightly after in 1982.
Connecticut was another founding member of the conference and if they were to go it would only leave four founding schools.
Nothing is certain at the moment what will happen to the remaining schools in the Big East but one thing that is almost certain is that more changes are coming to the Big East and other major conferences around the country.
Stephen Valenti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org