The seven Big East schools that don't play FBS football are leaving behind the conference many of them founded to build a league focused on basketball.
The presidents of the seven schools made the announcement Saturday.
"Earlier today we voted unanimously to pursue an orderly evolution to a foundation of basketball schools that honors the history and tradition on which the Big East was established," the statement said. "Under the context of conference realignment, we believe pursuing a new basketball framework that builds on this tradition of excellence and competition is the best way forward."
The seven schools are: Georgetown, St. John's, Villanova, DePaul, Marquette, Seton Hall and Providence.
USF Athletic Director Doug Woolard said of the exodus," not unexpected." USF President Dr. Judy Genshaft is the Chair of the Big East Committee, and as reported to 10 News she's standing by the statement released by Big East Commisioner Mike Aresco:
"The basketball institutions have notified us that they plan to withdraw from the BIG EAST Conference. The membership recognizes their contributions over the long distinguished history of the BIG EAST. The 13 members of the Conference are confident and united regarding our collective future. We have a strong Conference with respected national universities, and are working together to forge the future. We have a variety of options, and are looking forward with great partnership, collegiality and optimism."
Georgetown, St. John's, Seton Hall and Providence helped form the Big East, which started playing basketball in 1979. Villanova joined in 1980. The Big East didn't begin playing football until 1991.
The statement from the seven Catholic schools gave no details about their plans, such as when they want to depart and whether they will attempt to keep the name Big East.
Big East bylaws require departing members give the conference 27 months' notice, but league has negotiated early departures with several schools over the past year. Big East rules do allow schools to leave as a group without being obligated to pay exit fees.
There are also millions of dollars in NCAA basketball tournament money and exit fees collected from recently departed members that will need to be divvied up.
UCF in a tweet, said they along with USF will be staying in the conference. Woolard went a step further releasing this statement:
The planned withdrawal of the seven Catholic institutions from the Big East Conference was certainly not unexpected, and we wish them the best moving forward. The Big East model adopted in 1991 that encompassed both football and non-football playing members proved successful since its inception. This change, though, had been the subject of discussion for many years, and can now be viewed as part of the natural progression of conference realignment.
The Big East has 13 strong members moving forward together. We will have an excellent league in football, basketball and all other sports, and our programs will compete at the very highest level of intercollegiate athletics.
USF remains very well positioned for national success. As the eighth largest university in America, an incredibly rich talent base in the state of Florida and state-of-the-art athletics facilities that match or exceed those of any program in the country, there is no question USF will continue to emerge as a national force.
"The basketball institutions have notified us that they plan to withdraw from the Big East," commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement. "The membership recognizes their contributions over the long distinguished history of the Big East. The 13 members of the conference are confident and united regarding our collective future."
The latest hit to the Big East leaves Connecticut, also a founding member of the league, Cincinnati, Temple and South Florida -- the four current members with FBS football programs -- as the only schools currently in the Big East that are scheduled to be there beyond next season.
The Big East is still lined up to have a 12-team football conference next season with six new members joining, including Boise State and San Diego State for football only. Rutgers and Louisville, which both announced intentions to leave the Big East, are still expected to compete in the conference next year.
Notre Dame, which is moving to the Atlantic Coast Conference, is also expected to continue competing in the Big East next season in all sports but football and hockey.
Joining the Big East next season are Memphis, Central Florida, Houston and SMU for all sports and Boise State and San Diego State for football only.