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The most respect I have seen SLU receive to date...

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Thursday, May 22, 2003 -- At his league's conference meetings, Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese made impassioned remarks about keeping the Big East together and assailed the Atlantic Coast Conference for trying to lure teams away.

The comments may have been a last-ditch effort to stop what seems to be inevitable:

Change is coming.

Assuming the expected expansion of the ACC does occur, schools that are currently in the 14-team Big East will likely be key members in three different conferences.

With Miami, Syracuse and Boston College in the ACC, the remaining schools that play Big East football, would likely split from the schools that don't. Both leagues would then grab schools from Conference USA and the Atlantic 10 to reconfigure and create an entirely new conference landscape.

Depending on how things shake out, the University of Massachusetts could figure into the plans of a new Big East in a couple situations.

The following is a speculative look at four scenarios of how the Big East basketball schools could look.


With its Division I-A football schools scattered between the ACC and a new league, the six remaining basketball-driven Big East schools - Georgetown, Villanova, Seton Hall, St. John's, Providence and Notre Dame (a football independent) - would add six new members creating a basketball super conference stretching from Chicago, Milwaukee and Saint Louis to Massachusetts and Washington DC.

In this league, the five traditional Big East schools would add an eastern team (very possibly UMass) in an East Division, while Notre Dame would be joined by Marquette, DePaul, Saint Louis, Xavier and Dayton in the West.

The cities in this league would make it attractive to television. If UMass was involved, its penetration into the Boston market would give the conference five of the top eight TV markets in the nation - in New York (No. 1), Chicago (No. 3), Philadelphia (No. 4) and Washington D.C. (No. 8).

Having 12 teams would also allow the league to play in two divisions. This is particularly important in the non-revenue sports, because long and expensive travel could be avoided before postseason tournament play.

Likelihood: This option seems to make sense on quite a few levels and would likely earn the best television package of all the scenarios.

What would it mean for UMass: Several things work in UMass' favor for being included here.

The biggest is its location. Even though the campus is approximately 100 miles from Boston, UMass has more alumni in Boston than any other school and Boston would be a market the league didn't already have.


The six remaining schools that don't play football in the Big East, would add Marquette, Saint Louis, Dayton and Xavier to form a 10-team league of all catholic schools.

Likelihood: It's definitely possible. The problem with 10 is, there probably won't be divisional play and it would cost these schools a fortune to send their non-revenue sports to all the cities in this league.

What would it mean for UMass: This is probably the worst situation for the Minutemen, who would remain in a watered down A-10, weakened by the loss of Xavier, Dayton and potentially Temple.

Not only that, the A-10 would go from being the No. 2 basketball league with a northeast presence to No. 4 behind the ACC, the Big East basketball league and whatever the Big East football schools become.


The six remaining Big East non-football schools (including Notre Dame) add four more schools in the northeast and mid-Atlantic regions to create a 10-team league of geographically similar schools.

Those additions could come from a pool of mostly Atlantic 10 schools including: UMass, Rhode Island, Saint Joseph's, Temple, George Washington and Charlotte.

Likelihood: The most appealing thing here might be reasonable travel costs in this very manageable and geographically efficient league.

That said, while this league would get a decent TV contract, it doesn't present nearly the earning power of the first two scenarios.

Plus, the remaining schools would be resistant to other programs in their respective TV markets entering the league.

What would it mean for UMass: The Minutemen would be a near-lock if this league formed because they don't share a TV market with any of the other existing schools.


The five Big East Catholic schools split and become a conference of East Coast Catholic schools by adding some combination of Saint Joseph's, La Salle, Duquesne, Fordham, Holy Cross, St. Bonaventure, etc.

Likelihood: While the university presidents might like this idea for uniformity of academics and missions, this is not going to happen.

This would be disastrous for the Big East in terms of negotiating a TV contract.

What would it mean for UMass: The Minutemen would remain in a new look Atlantic 10, likely with the addition of some Conference USA schools.

Matt Vautour can be reached at [email protected]

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My old hometown paper! I am really impressed with the scouring of boards David. I live in Boston now but I was living in Northampton for the last 5 years and the Daily Hampshire Gazette was my hometown paper.

I think I can take some credit (possibly small) for the SLU respect and the scenarios. The writer, Matt Vantour, ("MTV" on some boards) is a real college basketball fan, AP voter, and best beat writer for UMass.

He regularly reads the UMassHoops board and I have been on that board making sure that SLU has not been left out of their Big East/A-10/C-USA perspective. I don't think he knows much more than board rumors and published accounts but he is an excellent reporter.

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