Big East makes summer split official
As expected, Big East commissioner Mike Aresco formally announced Friday that the conference has reached a separation agreement, allowing seven basketball programs to leave this summer with the conference name, leaving USF and others for a new as-yet-unnamed conference.
Aresco said the agreement, which still requires approval by the Big East's board, allows for "continued cooperation and playing opportunities" between the two conferences.
"I am pleased that this agreement has been reached," Aresco said in a statement. "With the longterm well-being of our outstanding institutions and their student-athletes of paramount importance, each group worked through a number of complex issues in an orderly, comprehensive and amicable manner marked by mutual respect. We part ways as friends and colleagues, and look forward to the success of both conferences."
As a result of the split, the league's three remaining committed football members -- USF, Cincinnati and Connecticut -- could receive as much as $30 million each from the Big East's reserve fund of exit fees, NCAA "units" and incoming entrance fees. The departing basketball schools have paid for the right to the Big East name, as well as the right to play their conference tournament at Madison Square Garden starting in 2014.
Aresco also addressed speculation that the new league will be called "America 12" -- ESPN reported the league's law firm had registered several website domains relating to that name -- by saying that "we have not chosen a new conference name at this time and there are no favorites."
Aresco said the new conference is going through a "thoughtful evaluation" of potential names and will choose one with the help of member presidents and athletic directors. "We are excited about the prospect of rebranding," Aresco said, "and look forward to working with our institutions and our fans as we engage in this process."