Report: Big East, Catholic schools reach agreement

The Big East Conference reportedly has reached an agreement with the seven Catholic basketball schools, allowing for their departure this summer.

According to an ESPN report, the deal is expected to be announced Thursday.

The seven schools -- DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John's and Villanova -- will be able to keep the Big East name and play their basketball tournament at Madison Square Garden, according to the report.

They are expected to add current Atlantic 10 members Butler and Xavier and probably Creighton to have at least a 10-team basketball league for the 2013-14 season, the ESPN sources said.

The new Big East, which will begin their new league on July 1, could add Dayton and St. Louis for the 2014-15 season.

The remaining schools in the Big East will have 10 members in 2014: Connecticut, Cincinnati, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, South Florida, SMU, Temple, Tulane and UCF. Navy will join in 2015, and Tulsa could join in 2014 or 2015. The current Big East will have to come up with a new conference name by July 1, according to the report.

It was in December when the seven non-FBS football schools decided that enough was enough and decided to part with the current Big East to pursue a new basketball-featured framework.

Over the course of the past 14 months, the Big East has had West Virginia depart for the Big 12 and three other football members -- Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Louisville -- announce plans to leave for the Atlantic Coast Conference. Additionally, Rutgers accepted an invitation to join an expanded Big Ten and Notre Dame -- a Big East member in all sports except football -- also decided to join the ACC under those same stipulations.

The Big East formed in 1979, primarily as a men's basketball conference, with Syracuse, Georgetown, St. John's, Providence, Seton Hall, Connecticut and Boston College as original members.

It has grown exponentially, adding and subtracting members along the way, prior to its current configuration of 16 teams.

Despite the latest defections, the conference had planned a 12-team football league for next year with holdovers Connecticut, Cincinnati, South Florida and Temple -- which was football-only in 2012 -- joined by soon-to-be departing Louisville and Rutgers as well as incoming Central Florida, Houston, Memphis, SMU, Boise State and San Diego State.

However, Boise State and San Diego State elected to remain in the Mountain West. Louisville and Rutgers are set to stay in the Big East for the 2013-14 academic year before departing to their respective new leagues, but could now seek to opt out this summer, although football schedules for the ACC and Big Ten have already been formulated for the fall.

In essence, the remaining members of the old Big East, left to form a new conference, would be Connecticut, Cincinnati, South Florida, Temple, Central Florida, Houston, Memphis and SMU.