2 Big East Members Have Discussed Starting Basketball-Only League

I report today on two Big East members that have had conversations about leaving the conference to start a new league built around traditional basketball powers. The discussions are preliminary and may not lead to any departures, but could signal dissatisfaction among at least some of the basketball schools with the league’s uncertain future or its choice of new members.

According to sources who were involved in the discussions at two Big East institutions, the colleges have discussed the possibility of a so-called Super Basketball Conference that could seek to add Butler, Temple, Xavier, or others. The sources were unwilling to publicly identify either institution because of the early stage of talks.

“I don’t think they’ve had serious talks about it, but I’d be shocked if they didn’t leave,” said a source close to the league. “They’re going to get there eventually, but someone’s going to have to lead them,” this person said.

Georgetown President John J. DeGioia, who helped lead the conference’s recent expansion, said league members were in complete agreement with the changes.

“We certainly could have confronted in this moment an opportunity to break up the conference, and we emphatically made the decision to keep it together. We had a full consensus that the best thing for our basketball programs would be to remain in complete alignment with the football programs,” he said. “I would be surprised to hear that any of our non-football-playing members would report contemplating separation.”

John M. Marinatto, the Big East’s commissioner, said the league had long encouraged its basketball athletic directors to meet separately from the football AD’s and to discuss any concerns they may have with proposed changes. “Although they’ve had discussions, I’ve had no indication from any of them that they have serious desires to break away,” he said.

But he told me it’s hard to know who to trust anymore in the realignment shuffle. “People don’t always tell you the truth. It’s obviously hard to say that and hear that, but it’s something we’ve all learned as we go through this realignment.”

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