Catholic 7 coming to fruition quickly now

The separation process the athletic directors from DePaul and Marquette were optimistic would occur in the next couple of weeks?

It might happen in the next couple of days. And it might leave Notre Dame scrambling to get to its new home — or a different home, anyway — a year earlier than expected.

The so-called Catholic 7 schools in the Big East are expected to start their new league for the 2013-14 academic year and officially will take the Big East name with them, according to an ESPN report.

DePaul, Marquette and the other five schools — Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Villanova and Georgetown — will add Butler and Xavier immediately, the report said. The new league is expected to take much more care in which schools it selects after that.

As such, the remnants of the conference Notre Dame would belong to for 2013-14 would be less than ideal for the men’s and women’s basketball teams as well as nonrevenue sports.

Athletic director Jack Swarbrick privately had been girding for the possibility of the Catholic 7 negotiating a split earlier than most anticipated, and that might mean the Irish would bolt for a new home earlier as well. It could mean a hurried sprint to the ACC well ahead of the 27-month waiting period Notre Dame had to endure, or even playing one season in the new league, according to ESPN’s report.

“All options open,” a Notre Dame source told the Chicago Tribune.

As far as the new league, DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto and Marquette athletic director Larry Williams told the Tribune earlier this week the expectation is to reach 12 members eventually.

“Twelve just seems to be a number that makes good sense,” Ponsetto said. “It could be that we’re smaller to start with. We’ll be real thoughtful about going from 10 to 12. I don’t know that we’ll start out at 12, but I think that’s where we’ll be (eventually).”

Said Williams: “It gives the media partner enough content to be able to market some compelling product at all times. … It gives you the flexibility in scheduling, so you don’t have to play a double-round-robin against everybody every year.”

Retaining the Big East name, the Catholic schools believe, would be a key element. It would pre-empt a potentially laborious trademark process for a new name, even if it would require its own explanation of a rebranding.

“The Big East name, if we were to retain that, probably would require less effort,” Williams said. “But the effort would focus on bringing in a media consultant PR firm that would help us rehabilitate that brand that has taken quite a few hits over the course of the last couple of years.

“Less work with the Big East name if we get to retain it. A lot of work if we don’t get to retain it.”


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