Conference Expansion Footnote

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Big East football fans should keep this in mind as the conference expansion soap opera continues:

A  source with knowledge of the agreement that was entered into by the Big East schools following the ACC raid of 2003 states that in the event that 2 football members leave the conference, the football and non-football members can split the league without any penalty and retain their respective revenues, such as NCAA Tournament distributions.  What is surprising is that the Catholic non-football members comprise the faction that is pushing the issue.  If you recall, those schools met back in March to discuss contingency plans.  Apparently, the Catholic schools have decided that they will exercise the split option if 2 Big East schools leave the conference (no matter who they might be) and have informed Big East commissioner John Marinatto as such.

Therefore, if the Big Ten takes Rutgers and Syracuse, for example, it automatically forces the break-up of the Big East (where it’s not just a hypothetical threat).  My understanding is that Notre Dame simply will not join an all-Catholic league for non-football sports when push comes to shove. Notre Dame’s alums may believe that it will be okay only because it would still be a pretty good men’s basketball league, but the problem is for all other sports. The athletic department size disparity between Notre Dame and the Catholic Big East members is the equivalent of USC or UCLA moving their non-football sports to the West Coast Conference.  That’s just not going to cut it for an athletic department of Notre Dame’s size and stature, no matter how much its alumni base believes football independence matters more than everything else combined.

Source: Frank the Tank’s Slant

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Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.