The expected announcement officially came on Friday: starting this summer, the Big East conference, as it has been since the 1979-80 season, will be no more.
The conference released a statement on Friday, formally stating the seven basketball programs, including Georgetown, will part ways from the remaining schools effective in July 1, 2013.
“I am pleased that this agreement has been reached,” said Big East commissioner Mike Aresco. "With the long-term well-being of our outstanding institutions and their student-athletes of paramount importance, each group worked through a number of complex issues in an orderly, comprehensive and amicable manner marked by mutual respect. We part ways as friends and colleagues and look forward to the success of both conferences.”
Beyond the departure date, the various statements from Big East commissioner Mike Aresco, Presidents from the basketball-seven programs or Georgetown athletic director Lee Reed were light on details, very light. For example, no mention of the Big East name and the Madison Square Garden locale for the conference tournament going with the basketball-centric schools, as has been reported.
During his media session on Friday before Georgetown hosts Syracuse in the regular season finale between the long-time rivals on Saturday, coach John Thompson III commented on the change.
"We're excited. I don't need to speak for all seven schools, the schools that are breaking off, we're excited to start a new chapter," said Thompson, who began his run as head coach in 2004 and literally grew up with the Big East his coaching-father help put on the national map. Georgetown and Syracuse are founding members.
"The Big East has been something that is special to me personally and to everyone that has been involved with it," Thompson continued. "But, we're in an era of change and as much as that one segment, that one era, that one time of the Big East will always be special and always mean a lot...those memories and that time is special, but it's time for change."
As for the schools not part of the basketball-seven, reports surfaced this week about "America 12" being the name of that conference. In a separate statement, Aresco said, "We have not chosen a new conference name at this time and there are no favorites. We are going through a thoughtful evaluation of potential names for our conference."
Additional statements regarding the conference breakup:
Reed: "The announcement today that we have reached a mutual separation is a positive step and an exciting development for our competitive athletics program. This has been a very amicable and transparent process, coordinated by the leadership of all the schools involved. While there are additional details to be determined and work to do, having clarity that our new league will begin competition in fall 2013 allows us to move forward in addressing the the opportunities we have as we establishing our new conference."
Presidents of the seven basketball universities: “We are grateful to Commissioner Michael Aresco for spearheading an agreement that truly represents the best path forward for each of our great institutions and the thousands of student-athletes who compete for our schools annually. It is a great credit to Mike, our colleagues, and all involved that we were able to work through a host of highly complex and time-sensitive issues in such a short period of time. We are pleased that we reached this amicable and mutually-beneficial separation by approaching each issue with a spirit of cooperation and shared respect.”