Sunday, January 6, 2013

Report: Big East's 'Catholic 7' optimistic about possible TV deal

The seven non-FBS football members of the Big East met informally on Friday to continue discussions on breaking away from the league and forming their own conference. The prospect of leaving the Big East without a big television contract was one of the largest hurdles facing the the seven Catholic schools.

On Saturday night, ESPN's Darren Rovell reported that the "Catholic 7" are anticipating getting at least double the money from what they currently earn in their Big East TV contracts.

The heavenly news must have sounded like Gabriel's Trumpet to the beleaguered presidents of St. John's, Georgetown, Providence, Villanova, DePaul, Marquette and Seton Hall — after weathering the hectic realignment of the conference over the past three years.

Having a TV schedule filled with basketball-only schools in a major market cities sounds idyllic at first but, in relation to the huge money earned from football and basketball leagues, the report of the lucrative deal is optimistic thinking at best.  Rovell wrote:

Sources say that Fox, whose Fox Sports 1 channel is set to launch in August, has an initial high offer on the table of more than $500 million for a 12-year deal. Fox Sports 1 will replace the network's motorsports channel Speed, already in 81 million homes. Sources say officials with Fox are scheduled to meet with those representing the interest of the "Catholic 7" in New York City on Wednesday. A Fox spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment. A high-ranking source at NBC Sports Network, which has so far engaged in preliminary discussions with the "Catholic 7," declined comment. ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz also declined comment on the network's interest in the "Catholic 7" games.

The Big East's deal — which the Catholic 7 is sheltered under — ends with the final game of the 2012-13 season.'s story states that the schools make between $2-3 million under the current contract.  Simply put, if the new contract is accurate, the schools would theoretically have a payday of $4-5 million with a new television partner.

Another obstacle for the Catholic 7's new league is the 27-month waiting period to jump from the Big East without paying any exit fees. 

The seven schools sound anxious to start on their own as soon as possible and next season wouldn't be out of the equation.  Maybe a fat TV deal in the bank could help pay the penalties and speed up the process. 

A growing demand for a basketball-only league seems to be bigger than ever and — if the Catholic 7 can lure quality hoops schools like Creighton, Butler or Xavier to round out the new Big East Conference* (*name pending) — forget Gabriel, they could toot their own horns.

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