What's essentially been known for several days now became official today: the Catholic schools -- I like "The Big Priest" -- are breaking off to form their own conference.
Big East commish's Mike Aresco's statement:
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.”
(I love it how schools are either called "the football schools" or "the basketball schools." Schools do play other sports, you know. In fact, that's a factor when you consider sending money-bleeding programs like field hockey or tennis from Storrs to SMU or Houston or wherever to play their games).
Here's the joint statement from the seven "basketball schools":
Earlier today we voted unanimously to pursue an orderly evolution
to a foundation of basketball schools that honors the history and tradition on
which the Big East was established.
Under the current context of conference realignment, we believe pursuing
a new basketball framework that builds on this tradition of excellence and
competition is the best way forward.
We are grateful to our Commissioner, Michael Aresco, for his
exceptional leadership of the Big East Conference. We have been honored to be associated with
the outstanding group of institutions that have made up the Big East. While we pursue this opportunity for our
institutions, we believe the efforts of the past two years have established the
foundation for an enduring national football
We look forward to building this new foundation with an emphasis on
elite competition and a commitment to the development of our students engaged in
intercollegiate athletics. That is where
we will now spend our energy as we move forward.
Here's Susan Herbst's tempered response, which I have no problem with:
"The tragedy that took place in Newtown on Friday should be the focus of the
thoughts of the people in Connecticut and all Husky fans this
"The University of Connecticut believes that the BIG EAST
Conference will continue to be a strong and exciting conference that is
comprised of highly-regarded national universities.
"We ask our fans to
steer all passion and concern to Newtown, and we will honor those lost when we
gather together as a university community for events this upcoming week."
Meanwhile, the Catholic schools are giddy. Here's the reaction from Providence:
has enjoyed a proud tradition as a founding member of the BIG EAST Conference,”
Providence College President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. said. “I want all our
donors, alumni, fans, students and especially our student-athletes to know that
we have worked diligently to get to this point. We believe that
today’s vote moves us further toward a solution that will put Providence College
and the other six basketball institutions in a position for long-term success.
We are working toward a model that is very similar to what BIG EAST
founder Dave Gavitt first envisioned more than 30 years ago when he left
Providence College – a conference comprised of basketball schools that would be
branded and which would compete at the highest of levels in the national
“We are also working
to provide Head Men’s Basketball Coach Ed Cooley with the resources he needs to
compete and excel at this level. We have committed to Coach Cooley
that we will extend his contract and we are working on the details of that at
present,” Fr. Shanley said.
“This is a monumental
day for Providence College and its Athletics Department,” Athletics Director Bob
Driscoll stated. “We are taking the necessary steps to secure the future of our
basketball programs and of our entire athletics department. We felt
it was vital for us to strengthen our bond with the other six basketball
institutions and to provide a long-term solution in an ever-changing conference
landscape. Having Coach Cooley lead our men’s basketball program for the
long-term and ensuring that he has the necessary resources to compete on a
national level are key components for a strong and vibrant future for our
“I am very excited
about the direction of our men’s basketball program,” Cooley stated. “I want to
thank Fr. Shanley and Bob Driscoll as they are working extremely hard to
position us and to put the pieces in place that will allow us to continue to
build Providence College men’s basketball so that we can compete and win at the
highest echelons of the sport. Providence is my home and it is
where I want to be. We still have work ahead of us in our quest,
but today marks another big step towards our goal.”
Labels: Mike Aresco, Susan Herbst