Will the Big East cease to exist this week?

It looks like Navy may have found a way out of the Big East without doing anything but sit back and watch.

It looks like Navy may have found a way out of the Big East without doing anything but sit back and watch.

The conference is continuing to melt down at a pace never before seen in college athletics. The latest dagger, and the one which might finally rip through the heart of the conference, is that the seven Catholic basketball only schools which have been the backbone of the league are giving up. Things are moving so fast with this that the question is no longer if DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall and Villanova are going to leave the Big East, but how it will happen.

With the many (many) recent defections from the conference there are only ten member schools left who have voting rights on the future of the Big East. The schools leaving as a seven makes sense because that is the minimum number required to vacate a conference together and maintain the auto qualifying bid in March. The current speculation is that this could lead to an all Catholic conference on a national level with the likes of Creighton, Xavier, and Gonzaga also involved.

In all honesty this has been coming for a long while. You could sense the discontent from this group of colleges who make their names on the basketball court as the likes of Louisville and Syracuse left the league. By all accounts the addition of Tulane was the one which finally crossed the line, but the watered down basketball schedule (and the huge drop in quality and RPI of the new teams in the league) meant that something had to give.

The most extreme measure that could come out of this is a complete dissolving of the league. When this high a percentage of teams vote to get out at once they can also vote to take the league down with them. Though this is probably unlikely it is making the Big East a ridiculously hard sell to the incoming schools (like Navy) as a sustainable conference. How long, for example, until UConn look at their hoops schedule and decides that Tulane and East Carolina are not places that do anything for them?

The other big issue here is money. Figures ranging from $50-$80 million have been put forward as the Big East's value when it comes to a TV deal. Taking out the Catholic schools though could reduce this figure by as much as 25 percent. That is quite the chunk of change when you are trying to convince schools that you are still viable.

In many ways I guess Navy are lucky that they are not officially tied into the league until 2015. Heck, with the way that the negative news seems to stream out daily the Big East might be done by the end of the week.

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