Big East Breakup Official

The seven Catholic schools will split off and keep the Big East name

The Big East has reached an agreement with seven departing basketball members that will allow them to separate from the football schools and create their own conference on July 1.

The announcement was made on Friday.

"With the long-term well-being of our outstanding institutions and their student-athletes of paramount importance, each group worked through a number of complex issues in an orderly, comprehensive and amicable manner marked by mutual respect," said Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco.

Aresco told The Associated Press on Friday the seven Catholic schools that are leaving to form a basketball-centric conference will get the Big East name, along with the opportunity to play their league tournament in Madison Square Garden.

Aresco, who will remain commissioner of the football league, would not disclose the financial part of the settlement.

A person familiar with the negotiations told the AP earlier this week that the football schools will receive about $100 million from a $110 million stash the conference had built up over the last two and a half years through exit and entry fees as well as NCAA men's basketball tournament funds.

"It's been an arduous four months but we got to the right place," Aresco said in a phone interview. "I think both conferences have good futures."

Aresco said the football schools have not chosen a name for the new conference and there are no favorites yet. He also said they have not determined how that $100 million or so will be split among the members.

Earlier this week, ESPN reported league officials were leaning towards calling the new conference the American 12.

The person familiar with the negotiations said the bulk of the money will go to holdover members Cincinnati, UConn and South Florida.

The divorce agreement with the basketball members, and the football schools' new TV deal with ESPN, still must be ratified by the school presidents. Aresco said that should come soon and without glitches.

Next up on the agenda for the football schools, Aresco said, is to find a 12th member and venues for future basketball tournaments.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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