Big East split: 7 Catholic basketball schools officially leaving

Michael Heiman

Georgetown, Villanova, St. John's, Marquette, Providence College, Seton Hall and DePaul voted unanimously to leave the Big East on Saturday.

It's official: the seven Catholic Big East schools are leaving the conference.

Georgetown, Villanova, St. John's, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall and DePaul released a statement earlier on Saturday, stating that the seven Catholic schools voted unanimously to leave the Big East, and form a new conference, via NBC Sports:

"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. Under the current 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 Catholic schools finally made the decision in a response to the conference realignment that has revolved around football. The Big East lost high-profile basketball members such as Syracuse, Louisville and Pittsburgh to the ACC, while replacing them with schools including Houston, Tulane and Central Florida -- schools with weak basketball programs.

The Big East conference released a statement, saying that the basketball-only schools notified the Big East of their decision to withdraw from the conference.

With the Catholic schools now leaving the Big East, the conference will almost certainly look to add more schools, at the least to ensure its safety as a football conference. The Big East still has a 12-team football conference for 2013 -- unless Louisville and Rutgers decide to leave early.

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