VILLANOVA, Pa. — Villanova’s Big East banner that hangs in the rafters already has a white patch stitched over West Virginia.
The Wildcats can now start putting Xs over most of the rest of the conference schools, as well.
The Big East — a proud league built on basketball moments like the 1985 Wildcats stunning conference rival Georgetown in the national championship game — will soon become extinct, even if the name lives on in some unrecognizable form.
On Saturday, Villanova, Georgetown, St. John’s, DePaul, Marquette, Seton Hall and Providence all decided to officially separate from the conference many of them helped to build, so they can construct a league focused on basketball in this ever-changing landscape of college athletics.
The breakaway from the Big East was only the first step. It will be weeks and months of uncertainty, and possibly lawsuits, before the final structure over this transition period falls into place.
The seven schools must decide who will join them in the new hoops-heavy conference, when they want to depart, where they’ll play a conference tournament, and whether they will attempt to keep the Big East name. Plus, the league will need a commissioner.
There is no true timetable for any of those decisions. Like so many of these reshaped conferences that stretch from coast to coast, this new league won’t be confined to eastern teams. Xavier, Butler, Dayton, Creighton, and Gonzaga, way out in Spokane, Wash., also don’t play major college football and would be natural fits to align with these Catholic schools. The league also will consider non-denominational schools, as well.
“They don’t necessarily have to be Catholic, but it could happen,” Patrick Lyons, Seton Hall’s athletic director, said. “We’re not restricting it. We also have to consider our football-playing Big East partners and what they plan to do. But we’re extremely excited about being able to shape our future.”