It had been speculated about for days, but on Saturday, the seven Big East non-football members made their intentions publicly known. They are leaving the conference to pursue a new basketball framework.
It was a unanimous vote by the seven presidents from Georgetown, St. John's, Villanova, DePaul, Marquette, Seton Hall and Providence.
The Big East, originally created in 1979, is still in line to have a 12-team football conference next season that includes six new members joining.
USF is amongst the three current football schools committed to the conference going forward. Their sentiment after hearing the news remained positive, despite the many questions that still have to be answered.
Below are the full statements released by USF Athletic Director Doug Woolard and Big East Commissioner Michael Aresco.
Statement from USF Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Doug Woolard
The planned withdrawal of the seven Catholic institutions from the Big East Conference was certainly not unexpected, and we wish them the best moving forward. The Big East model adopted in 1991 that encompassed both football and non-football playing members proved successful since its inception. This change, though, had been the subject of discussion for many years, and can now be viewed as part of the natural progression of conference realignment.
The Big East has 13 strong members moving forward together. We will have an excellent league in football, basketball and all other sports, and our programs will compete at the very highest level of intercollegiate athletics.
USF remains very well positioned for national success. As the eighth largest university in America, an incredibly rich talent base in the state of Florida and state-of-the-art athletics facilities that match or exceed those of any program in the country, there is no question USF will continue to emerge as a national force.
Comment from Commissioner Michael Aresco and the BIG EAST Presidents
The basketball institutions have notified us that they plan to withdraw from the BIG EAST Conference. The membership recognizes their contributions over the long distinguished history of the BIG EAST. The 13 members of the Conference are confident and united regarding our collective future. We have a strong Conference with respected national universities, and are working together to forge the future. We have a variety of options, and are looking forward with great partnership, collegiality and optimism.
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