Big East vs. Catholic 7

By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek

March 1, 2013

The Big East conference and the “Catholic 7” schools could officially separate as early as this July, with the Catholic 7 paying to keep the Big East name. While the schools could wait until Summer 2014 to leave without an exit fee, there’s added pressure to reach a deal soon because the Catholic 7 is closing in on a TV deal with Fox Sports, estimated to be $30-40 million annually depending on how many schools ultimately join the conference. The Catholic 7 TV deal, which is just for basketball rights, is worth more than the $20 million per year TV deal the Big East signed with ESPN for both football and basketball.

For fans of schools in either conference, it’s painful imagining what could have been. In 2011, as the cost of sports TV rights soared, the Big East turned down a nine-year, $1.3 billion deal from ESPN thinking it could get more money. The gamble obviously didn’t pay off. Combined, the Big East and the Catholic 7 will earn about $60 million annually from their new deals.

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