Dayton won’t be part of the initial launch of the league formed by the breakaway schools of the Big East, but multiple media outlets reported Thursday that UD ultimately will be included in the conference when it expands to 12 teams.
Atlantic 10 members Xavier and Butler have been picked by the Catholic 7 of Georgetown, Marquette, Villanova, Seton Hall, St. John’s, DePaul and Providence to begin play in 2013-14, according to ESPN and SportsIllustrated.com, citing unnamed sources. Creighton is considered a favorite to join the group if the league starts with 10 schools next year.
The Catholic 7 reportedly will keep the Big East name and continue to hold their basketball tournament at Madison Square Garden.
Fox, which is starting a new sports network, is prepared to pay each member more than $3 million annually (a considerable jump over the $300,000-plus the A-10 doles out in TV rights fees) and is expected to announce the plans for the league in a meeting with advertisers Tuesday.
“While Butler, Xavier and, most likely, Creighton are expected to join the new Big East this fall, the Catholic 7 schools are also expected to add Dayton and St. Louis in 2014 for a 12-team league,” ESPN.com reported.
According to SI.com, “The league will eventually expand to 12 teams in the next few years, with Creighton, Dayton and Saint Louis expected to fill in the final three slots.”
UD Athletic Director Tim Wabler has been following the developments of the new league but said the school hasn’t been contacted about joining.
“There’s been no communication at all with anyone representing the Catholic 7 and the University of Dayton,” he said. “We’re reading the same reports, but we haven’t heard anything.”
For UD and other second-tier candidates for the new Big East, it hasn’t been easy dealing with an uncertain future.
“You never know what’s true or isn’t true with all that stuff,” UD coach Archie Miller said. “I think all the speculation has always been Butler and Xavier are automatics. After that, depending on how many they add and when they add them, it’s all kind of been in flux.
“There’s a lot of money involved, and at the end of the day, everyone wants to be in that league… They’re going to look at what’s best for them, and early on, I don’t know what that will be. I’m sure it’s probably a nine- or 10-team league. Eventually, I think the league will get to 12.”