Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE
The future of college basketball at Madison Square Garden is changing as the Big East and Catholic 7 part-ways. Could the ACC come in with a change-of-heart to take on the historic venue?
In the wake of the Big East's split-up, the ACC is reconsidering its options for the 2016-21 conference tournaments, according to ESPN. Neither of the largest New York-area arenas submitted bids for the ACC's postseason event before the league's September deadline, but the changing membership of both leagues has caused the formerly-southern conference to consider different options for the tournament.
According to the report, the league eliminated Miami, Orlando, Pittsburgh and Atlanta's Georgia Dome from contention. The Georgia Dome hosted two of the most highly-attended ACC Conference Tournaments in the past, but the league prefers more traditional basketball venues for the event.
Pittsburgh and Syracuse will join the ACC in the Fall with Notre Dame and Louisville reportedly hoping to join in 2014. That northern movement has apparently brought New York back into contention along with Atlanta's Philips Arena, Charlotte and Greensboro, N.C., Tampa, and Washington, D.C.
Madison Square Garden reportedly has an option to back out of a deal with the Big East conference in the wake of changing membership, which the departures of Louisville and the Catholic 7 would likely trigger.
The two sides of the Big East are reportedly trying to hold on to their affiliations with the Worlds Most Famous arena, with a proposal on the table that the two conferences that will result from the fissure could share the arena, according to CBSSports.com. Two of the proposals included the leagues each holding shorter events at the arena to allow each to crown it's Champion in Manhattan, or for the leagues to alternate years at the area (presumably choosing one or more secondary sites for the years where they are not slated to be in New York City.
Any such arrangement would likely have to be accepted by the arena, but it would seem that their priority is to host a high profile event annually over a longer period of time. If an ACC change-of-heart would offer the arena such an arrangement, they may be able to step in to the rubble of the former Big East basketball behemoth to gain position with the MSG Sports organization.
The failure of MSG to bid on the ACC's tournament may not have been a true lack of interest so much as a matter of being engaged in discussions with the Big East — and the influence of former President and Villanova alumnus Scott O'Neil no-doubt played a role.
The emails obtained by CBS also reportedly contained information regarding the distribution of $18.8 million in exit fees already on deposit from WVU and TCU, approximately $25 million expected from future departures and another $25 million in expected entrance fees from 10 incoming members between Fall 2013 and 2020. Additional funds may be available from the "Football Reserve Fund" or a "Conference Reserve Fund" as well.
Some of the realignment money will be retained by the Big East conference office to cover expenses associated with realignment and re-building, rather than being distributed. The football side of the conference has also indicated that it prefers to retain the Big East name and that it might be amenable to an earlier exit for the non-FBS schools.