So this might get confusing but it’s not: 2013 looks to be the final year of the Big East basketball tournament with 2014 marking the first-annual Big East tournament.
Let us explain. Both ESPN’s Dana O’Neill and Sports Illustrated‘s Pete Thamel reported that the seven Big East Catholic schools will break away for the 2013-2014 season, as they’ll announce their new conference at a Tuesday press conference in conjunction with Fox Sports, the new league’s partner. The seven schools are lobbying and appear positioned to buy the naming rights for the Big East Conference off its current incarnation for an unknown sum. Madison Square Garden also appears to be the front runner to host the new Big East’s basketball tournament next season.
Thamel mentions that it appears the first three squads to join the new conference will be Creighton, Butler and Xavier, although Butler and Xavier’s arrivals depend on the schools’ abilities to pay the $2 million exit fee from the Atlantic 10 conference. St. Louis and Dayton have been mentioned as two other schools that could bring the league to 12 teams in the future, bolstering the conference’s hardwood pedigree.
Which leaves, as O’Neill mentioned on ESPN, the other schools who have just joined the old Big East with bags in hand, wondering how they got there. The old Big East will still feature UConn, Cincinnati, Louisville and Notre Dame for the 2013 season; however, both Louisville and Notre Dame (who have agreed to join the ACC, except Notre Dame in football) could lobby to join Pittsburgh and Syracuse in the ACC as early as next season. The talent pool will be diluted, with Houston, SMU and UCF joining, although Memphis and Temple’s additions will help make the conference watchable. Rutgers won’t leave for the Big Ten until 2014.