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Big East, Catholic 7 will officially separate on July 1

One of the nation's best college basketball conferences is breaking up. It's a bittersweet moment.

Stacy Revere

The Big East is officially splitting up. The Catholic 7, as referred to by the programs set to leave, will officially create their own basketball conference on July 1, 2013, the Big East announced in a press release on Friday.

DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John's and Villanova are the seven schools forming the basketball-only Catholic 7. According to a CBS Sports report, these schools will retain the Big East name and play their conference tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York. The current Big East is reportedly considering America 12 for its new conference name.

"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."

In addition to the seven Big East schools, the Catholic 7 is expected to add mid-major powerhouses Xavier and Butler starting next season. Other teams could also be in the fold to make the Catholic 7 a 10-team league.

The league is expected to name a commissioner soon. It is unclear what their impact will be on the NCAA Tournament, although it does seem likely they will receive at least one automatic bid every March. That would have implications on bubble teams around the country.

This is a bittersweet moment for all of the programs involved. The Big East has historically been one of the best conferences for college basketball, and it was torn apart by the growing demand and financial aspects of an ever-growing college football scene.

At the same time, the Catholic 7 has a chance to bring fans some great action on the court, and a new league will only make things that much more interesting come March Madness.

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