Catholic 7 taking Big East name in 2013-14

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Sports,College,Craig Stouffer,Georgetown University

Report: Butler, Xavier will join the new league

Georgetown took control of its conference destiny when it and six other Catholic -- and basketball-only -- schools announced their split from the Big East in December. Now it appears those schools are taking the name, too, and that they will have a reformed basketball conference of their own next season, according to multiple media reports.

The Catholic 7 -- Georgetown, DePaul, Marquette, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall and Villanova -- are expected to be joined by Butler and Xavier, the reports said. Xavier and Butler have not formally withdrawn from the Atlantic 10. To exit the A-10 with less than a year's notice would cost each school $2 million.

Creighton could be the 10th, according to ESPN.com, while Dayton and Saint Louis could increase the conference size to 12 in the next few years, according to SportsIllustrated.com.

A television deal for the Catholic 7 with Fox, which is launching its own national sports network, is expected to be announced next week. Reports said Fox will pay $3 million per school.

The major college football members of the current Big East will meet in Atlanta on Friday to discuss the departure of the seven basketball schools.

The retention of the Big East name was a topic of discussion on the weekly conference call with the league's basketball coaches Thursday.

"It almost seems fitting that they should have the name," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. "I almost think maybe it would be fitting for them to have that title given the tradition and history of those Catholic schools in the league."

The departure of the Catholic 7 could hasten Notre Dame's exit from the Big East, leading to the Fighting Irish joining the ACC this summer instead of 2014.

Brey also said the Fighting Irish "investigated" whether to join the Catholic 7 last year before the breakup was complete.

Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin predicted that there could be four conferences in the future and played down the importance of the Big East name.

"Originally, you would think it's a big deal," Cronin said. "But I think all these kids know that the Big East, when it becomes whatever it's going to become, when the Catholic league becomes whatever it's going to become, the kids are going to know it's not the Big East of Syracuse and Georgetown and the Pearl against Patrick Ewing, so I don't think it's that big a deal."

It is unclear which league -- the football-led Big East or the Catholic 7 -- would stage its conference tournament at Madison Square Garden.

Big East commissioner Mike Aresco said no deal has been completed between the two groups but "some of this stuff is clearly coming down to the wire."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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