By Ralph D. Russo
The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Big East football schools will get almost all of a $110 million pot in a deal that will allow seven departing basketball schools to keep the name Big East and start playing in their own conference next season, a person familiar with the negotiations says.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the separation agreement has not yet been finalized. That is likely to happen by the end of the week. The football schools will receive approximately $100 million under the agreement, most of which will go to holdover members Connecticut, South Florida and Cincinnati.
The basketball schools will receive $10 million, the Big East name and the right to play their conference tournament at Madison Square Garden.
The Big East’s stash of cash has built up in recent years through a combination of exit fees, entry fees and money the league’s members earned in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Since 2011, the Big East has lost 16 schools that were either members or dropped out before playing a game. That figure includes the seven Catholic basketball schools.
The so-called Catholic 7, which is expected to add at least two more members before it begins competition in the 2013-14 school year, is made up of Georgetown, St. John’s, Villanova, Seton Hall, Providence, Marquette and DePaul. The new Big East has a television deal from Fox waiting for it, though it still needs to hire a commissioner and set up a league office.
Joining South Florida, Connecticut, Cincinnati and Temple, which rejoined the Big East last year for football, in the to-be-named-later conference in 2013 will be Memphis, Central Florida, SMU and Houston. East Carolina and Tulane are set to join in 2014 and Navy is scheduled to join for football in 2015. Commissioner Mike Aresco has said the conference is looking at adding another member to give it an even 12. It would then break into two divisions of six and play a football championship game.
The Big East football schools recently agreed to a seven-year deal worth about $130 million with ESPN, though the first year of the deal is expected to be adjusted down with the departure of the seven basketball schools. The Big East will receive about $20 million per year for the final six years of the deal, or about $2 million per school.
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