NEW YORK — The Big East is headed for another breakup. This time, the seven prominent basketball schools that don’t play FBS football are planning to break away from the ever-changing conference.
The divorce is expected to be complicated, maybe even contentious, with millions of dollars and possibly the future of the league at stake.
The Big East’s non-football members decided Thursday to separate from the conference, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because officials from those schools are still sorting through details and trying to figure how best to split from the conference. No official announcement is imminent.
The seven schools that don’t play FBS-level football are St. John’s, Georgetown, Marquette, DePaul, Seton Hall, Providence and Villanova. Officials at those schools have concerns about the direction of the conference and feel as if they have little power to influence it.
Commissioner Mike Aresco conferred by phone with the leaders of those seven schools earlier in the day, according to another person familiar with the situation, also speaking on condition of anonymity.
The current Big East football membership includes only four schools — South Florida, Connecticut and Cincinnati, Temple — that are committed to the league beyond 2013. But there are 11 schools with plans to join the Big East in the next three years, including Boise State and San Diego State for football only in 2013.
Because those schools won’t be members until next summer, the majority of the voting members of the Big East are basketball schools right now. Still, those schools aren’t in position to dissolve the conference.
That would take the votes of at least two football members, according to the Big East bylaws.
The Catholic schools can leave without financial penalty. The Big East has provisions in its bylaws that allow a group of schools to leave without exit fees.
But what they would do remains unclear, as are the legal ramifications of their actions.