Catholic 7 split done pending approvals, announcement reportedly Friday
(Tribune illustration / May 10, 2012)
A separation agreement was complete Thursday and merely awaited sign-offs from presidents and attorneys on the football side of things, two sources told the Tribune. Those didn't land in time for an official announcement, though a Big East source said Friday was "looking good" for the break-up to go public.
If it does, that will trigger Notre Dame's talks with the soon-to-be-former Big East, aimed at landing the Irish in the Atlantic Coast Conference for 2013-14. The ACC is ready, per a league source, having briefed its membership about a possible Notre Dame arrival late last week and having created templates for schedules including Notre Dame's teams.
By now, all pronouncements of announcements should be considered tentative, given the complicated nature of the enterprise. But should it become official, the major items are well known by now.
DePaul, Marquette, Georgetown, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall and Villanova will take the Big East name, their NCAA tournament units and the championship tournament at Madison Square Garden as they leave. Their new league will begin play in 2013-14.
Almost immediately, per one source with knowledge of the talks, Xavier and Butler will be added to bring the new league to nine members -- once those schools fork over $2 million each in exit fees to the Atlantic 10 for leaving with less than 12 months' notice.
Meanwhile, the football-playing schools will divvy up $100 million or so in cash reserves for their new conference. Connecticut, Cincinnati and South Florida are expected to receive more than $20 million each in revenue from that pool, the Hartford Courant reported.
And then comes Notre Dame, which can begin negotiations for an expeditious exit to the ACC once the Catholic 7 separation is officially complete. That deal essentially serves as an outline for Notre Dame's own discussions for withdrawal under a similar premise, and the Big East simply wasn't going to entertain Notre Dame's exit until it clarified the Catholic 7 situation.
To be sure, the ACC will be ready for Notre Dame right away, as long as the timing is right.
The ACC held a conference call late last week to brief its schools about the possibility of Notre Dame entering for 2013-14 after that option basically had been called off in January at league meetings, a league source confirmed to the Tribune.
The ACC presumably would slot Notre Dame into those until-now hypothetical scheduling templates -- as long as the negotiations fall into place as well.