COPY-Reports: Big East schools may leave league

(RNN) - The seven members of the Big East Conference that do not play football are set to leave the league, according to multiple reports.

What this will mean for the future of the league and the college sports landscape is unclear.

A report in The New York Post cites unnamed sources claiming the presidents of the schools that do not play FBS football will issue a statement Thursday afternoon announcing their intention to leave the conference. The schools are DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John's and Villanova. cited another source saying the announcement will not come that soon. reported Wednesday that the basketball schools were "leaning" to leaving the league.

The Post story said the basketball schools will try to connect with members of the 14-team Atlantic 10, including Butler, Davidson, St. Louis, Creighton and Xavier. How that will pan out is not known, and how many of the A-10's schools will be involved is not clear.

But's Pate Thamel noted that the seven Catholic schools reported to bolt the Big East are likely to form a "12-team basketball-based" league.

The Big East has been in a state of flux for some time - last month, the league saw Rutgers leave for the Big Ten and Louisville go to the ACC. Pittsburgh and Syracuse have announced plans to leave, as well.

Notre Dame, which only participates in basketball, is headed to the ACC as well. To fill the void left by those teams, the Big East planned to add Houston, SMU, Memphis, UCF, Boise State and San Diego State beginning in 2013; Tulane and East Carolina in 2014; and Navy in 2015.

Houston, SMU, Memphis, UCF and Tulane were expected to join as full Big East members, while Boise State, San Diego State, East Carolina and Navy were slated football-only members.

Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech left the conference for the ACC in 2003.

In football, the Big East is currently a member of the Bowl Championship Series, and its champion is an automatic qualifier for BCS Bowls, which have big payouts. But the BCS is changing to a different format next year that will end that system and deliver a financial blow to the conference.

Other current members of the Big East include Temple, Cincinnati, Connecticut and South Florida.

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