It was nice to know you St. Joe’s and LaSalle. Congrats Charlotte on getting your win at Hinkle Fieldhouse. And the budding rivalry with VCU seemingly will be nipped after the two meet in Richmond tomorrow.
Butler’s maiden voyage in the Atlantic 10 will apparently also be their swan song. Multiple sources reported Thursday night that Butler and Xavier will be joining the ‘Catholic 7′ that are breaking away from the Big East, although apparently the name of the league is going with said seven members.
Creighton has emerged as the front runner to become the tenth member of the league. It appears that Dayton and Saint Louis will be also joining the party, but a year later for the 2014-15 campaign.
The key piece of the puzzle for all parties involved is the television destination for the league, and that appears to be the new Fox Sports national channels. Reports indicate that that will be announced on Tuesday as Fox announces the rebranding of current channels Speed and Fuel as Fox Sports 1 & 2. The television package will be worth $3 million per year to each member school.
The exit costs for Butler and Xavier from the Atlantic 10 to depart with less than a year’s notice will be $2 million. Reports have also surfaced that the new league will be paying the freight for the pair to exit the A10 stage.
While the moniker and brand of the Big East will be retained, the league will have more of a Midwest feel. Butler will play games in Chicago and Milwaukee, like their days in the Horizon League. They’ll play games in Cincinnati in keeping their league ties with Xavier. They’ll have a one-year hiatus of playing in Dayton and St. Louis, and they’ll maintain new locales like Philly, New York, and Washington D.C. with new rivals Villanova, Georgetown, Seton Hall, and St. John’s.
The only drawback I’ve seen so far is eventually expanding the league to 12 teams, in my opinion. There’s more money to be had for all members involved if you keep the league at ten teams. Plus, you ensure a double round-robin schedule, which means you’d get the exposure of playing in each league market that way. With 12 teams, you either break up in to two divisions and play 16 games, or you miss two teams playing in your building and two road venues to play 18 league contests.
If you look at the entire 12 team group, there would be potentially six NCAA tournament teams this season: Butler, Saint Louis, Creighton, Marquette, Georgetown, and likely Villanova. There would be little doubt as to its claim of best non-football league in the country.
Butler fans, treat this as a moment to reflect on the exponential growth of your program in the last five years. Just like having ESPN’s College GameDay on campus in January, the invite to join Big East 2.0 is a nod to Butler’s great tradition and their meteoric rise to back-to-back national championship games. Butler is about to play their seventh straight sellout in seven league road games. They’ll enter a new league not having to take a backseat to any of their new brethren.
So regardless of where Butler finishes in this postseason, there’ll be a banner coming down and another new one going up at Hinkle Fieldhouse. And it’ll feel right, just the the Atlantic 10 one did this season. Just don’t expect another change anytime soon. This one’s here to stay.