The general consensus around the country had been that conference realignment came to a halt when the ACC signed their Grant of Media Rights earlier this summer.
And, when it comes to the five power conferences, that much is probably true. The Big 12 and the ACC have signed Grant of Media Rights deals, and no one is going to willfully leave the SEC, the Big Ten or the Pac-12. UConn, Cincinnati and the rest of the AAC may want to move elsewhere, but as of now, it doesn’t look like there is a place for them to move.
So here we are.
But, as usual, that discussion leaves out schools with basketball interests at the forefront. Today, a video was posted on youtube featuring the new Xavier Athletic Director talking about even more Big East expansion (jump to the 5:30 mark):
“I think that the Big East will expand,” Greg Christopher said. “From ten to 12. I don’t think that it’s [set] in stone, but it dos appear that things are headed that way.”
“The timing is the issue,” Christopher continued. “I don’t know that it’s next year, but I would say that it’s in the next five years. The four schools, the only thing that I can tell you, being someone that’s new walking in the door, is what’s been in the media. I don’t think anyone who follows this doesn’t already know: Richmond, Dayton, St. Louis, and VCU. ”
It’s not a huge surprise that the Big East is looking to add a couple more schools, but it is surprising to hear an Athletic Director publicly confirm that fact.
It also creates a situation that raises the stakes for the four programs Christopher mentioned. Richmond, Dayton, St. Louis and VCU all have strong basketball programs and fanbases, and while we’re not exactly talking Kentucky or North Carolina, these are teams that have proven to consistently find success and a way into the NCAA tournament.
They are prioritize hoops over any other sport, which they would have in common with the 10 schools currently in the Big East, a league with an intriguing new TV deal and enough name cache — both in conference and in their membership — that it will command attention during the basketball season. Getting in the Big East is a big step up, especially when the Atlantic 10 leftovers would more-or-less look like the CAA of five years ago.