The New Big East could also be the New Yankee Conference by Wednesday, when sources informed ESPN that the Catholic 7 presidents, along with the presidents of Xavier, Butler and Creighton will vote to launch an FCS football league as part of their new conference. The move comes as a reaction to the continuing instability of the CAA football conference that houses Villanova's program, as well as the desire to try and lure in some football-playing schools to the conference.
The conference will invite Dayton, Richmond and Davidson to join them as part of the move, which, along with Villanova, Georgetown and Butler, would give the league six teams. Delaware is likely to be invited as well as a football-only member to get the conference to seven football teams -- the minimum for an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Fordham may also receive consideration as a football-only member.
The real impetus for the move for the non-football playing schools of the Catholic 7, however, was the chance to recruit schools like UConn and Memphis, who may be ready to drop their pursuit of big time college football to play in an elite basketball league.
According to the ESPN report, the Huskies are considering the move and would be willing to drop their football program back to the FCS level and resume their old Yankee Conference rivalry with Villanova should the ACC remain stable through next season. Memphis hasn't had as serious discussions on the matter, but if UConn were to leave their conference for the Big East, insiders expect that they could opt to follow suit.
With UConn and Memphis in the fold, the new Big East could fast become one of the most competitive FCS conferences and offer a stable home for Villanova's program. Though trips to Memphis might be expensive, the new league would have a similar travel footprint to the CAA at it's largest, which had road trips to both Maine and Atlanta.
Asked to comment on the reports, Georgetown President John DeGioia said, "FCS football is of the utmost importance to Georgetown University. It is a program near and dear to our community and one that we hope will grow in the future. We will take any necessary actions going forward to secure that future for our team, which has been one of the best at the FCS level."
Villanova would likely be the cream of the new conference in football, having won the 2009 National Championship and appearing in the 2010 FCS Semifinals. Richmond also offers a strong FCS program that took the 2008 title.
"We plan to do the most extensive study ever done of the issue," Villanova's president Fr. Peter Donohue said. "It would be very disappointing, however, if we were forced to cancel our plans to build a new performing arts center on the football stadium site, but we will do whatever is best for the Big East Conference."
In other news, please check your calendar, it's April 1st. APRIL FOOLS!