Published Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 1:42 pm / Updated at 10:57 am
Creighton's move to Big East set to be announced today

Follow along with live coverage of the Big East announcement.

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A new Big East Conference that will include Creighton University is set to be announced this morning.

College presidents of the new Big East athletic conference are to assemble in New York City at 11 a.m. Eastern time today to reveal “significant progress” in the ongoing development of a multi-sport conference.

At the same time — 10 a.m. Central — Creighton officials invited the public to the D.J. Sokol Arena to announce a “special event in the history of the university and Creighton athletics.”

All of the presidents of the affected schools, including Creighton's president, the Rev. Timothy Lannon, are expected to attend the New York City event.

The new league is to be composed of schools with strong basketball traditions. All but one of them — Butler — is Catholic. The league will begin play in the 2013-14 season.

The core of the new conference will be formed by seven former Big East members — St. John's, Seton Hall, De­Paul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence and Villanova — that earlier this month reached an agreement to establish their own “basketball-first” conference effective July 1.

Learn more about the new Big East schools

Along with Creighton, Butler and Xavier are expected to join the new Big East to make a 10-member league.

Top officials with Fox Sports Media Group and Madison Square Garden also are to attend today's announcement in New York City.

The new league has a TV contract lined up with Fox that reportedly will pay schools at least $3 million per year.

While its entry into the reconfigured, basketball-centric conference will have the Bluejays annually going against some big names in big cities, it also will mean leaving the Missouri Valley Conference, Creighton's longtime home.

Creighton will be joining a group of like-minded institutions. All 10 teams in the reconstituted Big East are private schools, nine are Catholic, and all have little or no football history but share reputations for playing big-time hoops.

While Creighton will be moving all sports to the new league, there is no doubt which sport is king in the new conference: basketball. It's one of the main reasons the “Catholic 7” broke away from the football-playing members of the Big East — to get back to a conference where basketball is front and center.

The move could provide advantages for Creighton in general student recruitment, increasing its profile in some of the largest media markets in the country. DePaul is in Chicago, St. John's is in New York City, and the league's annual tournament will continue to be held in New York's Madison Square Garden. Creighton draws nearly two-thirds of its students from outside Nebraska.

Creighton joined the Valley in 1928, left as an independent for several decades and returned in 1977. Creighton would be among the smaller schools in the new league, though the undergraduate enrollment it reported in 2011 was close to that of Xavier, Butler, Providence and Seton Hall.

Of Creighton's total undergraduate, graduate and professional school enrollment of 7,730 last year, 65 percent came from outside Nebraska, with students from every state represented. Almost 10 percent of its students came from states in the geographic footprint of the new league.

But when it comes to athletic budgets, Creighton is more like its current Missouri Valley colleagues than the schools in the new league.

Creighton reported its athletic budget at about $15 million in 2011, which was right at the average for Missouri Valley schools. By contrast, the Catholic 7 athletic budgets averaged $27.5 million. And even when excluding big dollars that a handful of schools spend on football, hockey and lacrosse, the average was $24 million.

Creighton's $4.4 million in basketball spending trailed all the Catholic 7 schools, though it was close to what Butler and Xavier spend. In some sports, Creighton's budget is already competitive with the proposed new league. Its baseball budget would be the highest in the league, its men's soccer budget the second-highest.

Contact the writer:

402-473-9581, leslie.reed@owh.com

Contact the writer: Leslie Reed

leslie.reed@owh.com    |   402-473-9581    |  

Leslie covers higher education issues and events affecting Nebraska college students and their families.

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