Well, that escalated quickly:
The Big East's seven departing Catholic schools are expected to start their own league next season and will keep the Big East Conference name, sources told ESPN's Brett McMurphy, Andy Katz and Dana O'Neil.
Joining the Catholic 7 schools -- DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall, and Villanova -- in the new "Big East" this fall will be Xavier and Butler, sources said.
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The departure of the Catholic 7 schools, which would officially begin their new league on July 1, also could mean Notre Dame joins the ACC this summer instead of 2014.
Sources said Notre Dame has planned on remaining in the Big East for the 2013-14 academic year as long as the Catholic 7 schools did so. However, if those schools left before then, the Fighting Irish would also look to join the ACC this summer.
If unable to join the ACC in 2013-14, the Fighting Irish would consider spending one season in the Catholic 7 league before moving to the ACC in 2014, a source said.
This is what we know (for lacrosse purposes):
- Providence, St. John's, Georgetown, Villanova, and Marquette are going to be in a new league next spring called the "Big East."
This is what we don't know (for lacrosse purposes):
- Whether Notre Dame will join the ACC next season, thereby creating Voltron with Carolina, Duke, Maryland, Syracuse, and Virginia. If the Irish were to play in the ACC in 2014, I'm fairly positive that college lacrosse would witness the most ridiculous iteration of conference play ever put on display, if only for one season due to Maryland's departure to the Big Ten (and lacrosse points unknown at the moment) for 2015.
- Rutgers' future. The "old" Big East isn't likely to sponsor a league where only one of its members -- a transitory member at that -- plays the game. Do the Scarlet Knights become ronin in 2014, playing as an independent until the Big Ten potentially forms a league when Rutgers and Maryland come on board for 2015, or do they park their lacrosse team in an already established league for a season (or more than a season, depending on what the Big Ten wants to do with lacrosse)? Has nobody thought about Brian Brecht in all of this? BRIAN BRECHT, PEOPLE!
- Whether the "new" Big East will: (1) Sponsor lacrosse; (2) If it sponsors lacrosse, whether it will be afforded the grace period for an automatic NCAA Tournament invitation. This is a complicated issue (if you peruse the StoryStream, the problems are laid out fairly directly), and the formation of a new conference while retaining an old name makes things somewhat opaque (especially given what the Atlantic Sun told the world earlier in February when it announced that its league would have an immediate invitation to the NCAA Tournament). Regardless, the "new" Big East will either navigate the waters with five members, looking either for an associate member to play lacrosse (in the ESPN.com report, no school being noted as a potential "new" Big East member currently plays lacrosse) or convincing a member to pursue Division I lacrosse to get the league's membership up to six, or spit its members into the atmosphere for other conferences (or the loneliness of independence) to deal with. The answers, right now, aren't clear, especially if Notre Dame parks their lacrosse program in the "new" Big East for a season.
Only in conference realignment is a list of unknowns longer than a list of knowns (and I'm sure the list of unkowns could be even longer). Good thing this is all going into effect in four months. Thanks for making lacrosse decisions, football and basketball.