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‘Catholic Seven’ Set to Break Away

The breakup of the Big East is almost complete.

According to multiple sources, presidents and athletic directors from Big East full members, the schools that play all league sports, including football, are scheduled to meet today in Atlanta to consider a separation proposal between those schools and the “Catholic Seven” schools looking to leave the league.

According to one Big East source, the proposal calls for the departing schools to take the Big East name with them and leave as early as this year, starting the new league in 2013-14.

One Big East source described “a full agenda” for today’s meeting, and predicted some debate.

“I think the brand is going to be hotly contested,” the source said.

Temple will be represented at the meeting, but not Villanova and Georgetown and the others breaking away. Another source said the date of the separation is still in question. Multiple sources said the key is the value in dollar figures, attached to each of the separation points.

The proposal apparently calls for the remaining schools to receive a considerable portion of Big East NCAA basketball units and exit fees left behind by departing schools such as Louisville and Syracuse if the name is taken by the other group and that group is allowed to leave immediately.

Another Big East source said that once the separation is agreed upon, the schools leaving could announce the setup of the new league “pretty quickly,” as soon as next week, possibly to start in the 2013-14 season.

One source said Butler and Xavier have “unanimous” support to join the new league, which reportedly is close to a deal with Fox Sports to telecast games, with the possibility of having some games continuing to appear on ESPN. The Fox deal reportedly is worth as much as $40 million a year just for basketball.

This breakaway league, which also includes Georgetown, Marquette, DePaul, Seton Hall, St. John’s and Providence, could start with 10 members and go to 12 in future years. Creighton and Richmond are two possibilities to join as a 10th member, with Dayton and St. Louis also in the mix.

Once source said that the Fox Sports Network is alright with the new league starting with 10 or even nine schools if it gets off the ground in 2013-14. Also, the new configuration, including Villanova, is expected to play its conference tournament at Madison Square Garden.

The Big East football schools recently reached an agreement with ESPN on a seven-year deal worth $130 million for football and basketball.

Both groups are trying to tie up as many loose ends as possible before the Big East tournament, March 12-16 in New York. Usually, the entire group gets together then.

“That meeting will not take place this year,” one source said, noting that it could be awkward for the divorcing factions to meet together.