The seven Catholic schools that are set to leave the Big East to form their own basketball conference have been reportedly offered more than $500 million by Fox for a 12-year television deal. The schools’ representatives and officials from Fox are planning to meet on Wednesday to discuss details of a possible deal.
According to ESPN.com, NBC Sports Network, which has already engaged in some talks with the “Catholic 7,” and ESPN both declined comments on their networks’ interest in televising the games of the new conference.
The seven Catholic schools, that do not play FBS football, are DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John’s, and Villanova. Their respective presidents met in New York last week to discuss details of the new conference, and announced they have retained legal services to negotiate the new television deal.
The school presidents reportedly have known for some time that they would be better off leaving the Big East conference, having voted unanimously to do so. The Legacy Agency, which represents Fox broadcasters, began early discussions with representatives of St. John’s and Georgetown. The presidents issued the following statement in December:
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.
The “Catholic 7″ will reportedly split its share of the television rights evenly, and divide the remainder among the additional three to five schools it hopes to add to form a 10 to 12 team conference. If the negotiations with Fox go according to plan, the new conference may be able to leave the Big East at the end of this season, and enlist new schools, so that their television contract could begin next season.
Georgetown, Marquette, and Villanova have combined for three national championships and 12 Final Fours. St. John’s, DePaul, Seton Hall, and Providence have combined for five appearances in the NCAA Tournament since 2003.