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Big East could vote to dissolve league

The basketball-only members have an advantage up until July 1, and they could elect to dissolve the Big East.

Big East basketball ball schools have the power for a few months.
Big East basketball ball schools have the power for a few months.

With the Big East losing Rutgers to the Big Ten last week, and there is the possibility of losing either Louisville, Connecticut or Cincinnati. However, Big East commissioner Mike Aresco is confident that he can add teams to their cavernous conference:

He said the league will move quickly to replace Rutgers. The West coast appears to be the target region with BYU, Air Force and UNLV as possible candidates.

"There are schools that want to join the Big East," Aresco said. "And why wouldn't they? We have a model that works."

Not so sure about that. The Big East does not have a model that works, because if they did then they wouldn't have lost five schools in the last 18 months.

With so many defections, there is a possibility that the league could dissolve, because for the first time the basketball-only schools will have the two-thirds votes needed to dissolve the league. However, these talks are very preliminary.

Here are the schools that are left in the Big East, as of now (basketball teams are in bold):

  • Cincinnati
  • Connecticut
  • DePaul
  • Georgetown
  • Louisville
  • Marquette
  • Providence
  • St. John's
  • Seton Hall
  • South Florida
  • Villanova

If Connecticut or Louisville leave, as they rumored are, then the remaining seven basketball-only members could vote to dissolve the league (via College Basketball Talk):

Representatives of some of those [remaining] seven schools said this week that the tipping point would be reached if either Connecticut or Louisville heads to another league. Such a loss would be infinitely more important to the basketball schools than Rutgers leaving, because it would further erode an already badly damaged basketball core.

Losing a UConn or Louisville would also give the basketball schools the opportunity to engineer an unprecedented power play and vote to dissolve the league. According to the Big East's bylaws, the conference can be dissolved by a two-thirds vote of all members. The seven basketball schools, which include Providence College, would own that voting advantage over three all-sports members (Cincinnati, South Florida and either UConn or Louisville). That voting edge would disappear in July, when new members Central Florida, Houston, Memphis and SMU come onboard.

If a vote were to go down it would have to be done before July 1, 2013, because that is when the other full fledged members come aboard. With the additional schools voting power would return to the football schools.

The reason if UConn leaves -- at least according to this Providence Journal report -- is so hurtful to the league is attendance in hoops. That article mentions that Providence gets huge crowds when they come to town, and they already lost other big time opponents in Notre Dame and Syracuse.

These basketball teams have the power to dissolve this league, and possibly raid the Atlantic-10, or even create a coast-to-coast basketball league which could include St. Louis, BYU, Gonzaga and others.

The main issue with that is how much money could they earn, because the Armed Forces Bowl or midweek MAC outdraws even above average hoops games.

So, if the Big East basketball schools are going to go their own way they have a short time to do so, and if they do dissolve the league. Not sure what would become of those schools, but if it does come to that I could easily see Boise State and San Diego State making a return to the Mountain West.

Even if the football schools who were to be part of the Big East make a new conference, they might have to include Boise State and San Diego State in all sports. This scenario of the Big East folding is still extremely early in the process, but it is something to keep an eye on, because if it happens then things really get wild.