But the most recent defections of Louisville and Rutgers, along with the additions of Tulane for all sports and East Carolina for football only in 2014, have convinced the basketball schools that it’s not worth sticking with the plan.
Conference realignment has whittled away the Big East, costing it many of its oldest and most prominent members in the last 16 months. Pittsburgh and Syracuse are going to the Atlantic Coast Conference next year. West Virginia has moved to the Big 12. Louisville is headed to the ACC and Rutgers to the Big Ten, maybe as soon as 2014.
Money doesn’t seem to be driving the basketball schools away. The Big East non-football members currently get about $1.6 million from the league’s television deals, and that share goes up to about $3.5 million when NCAA basketball tournament money is included. The football members make about $6 million currently.
Even if the Big East doesn’t reach its goals with a new TV contract, the Big East basketball schools are not likely to earn much more on their own. Though the difference between what they get without the football schools and what they get with them might be small enough to justify leaving them behind and taking control back of their programs.
‘‘What’s football going to look like in 15 years?’’ Marquette athletic director Larry Williams told ESPN Radio 540 in Milwaukee this week. ‘‘They may not be in the power position they are in today. How do we as an elite basketball program fit into the landscape of this football-dominated environment? I don’t have a complete answer for you, but that’s the question.’’
AP Sports Writer Dan Gelston in Philadelphia contributed to this report.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP