Butler University is expected to leave the Atlantic 10 Conference and join a new version of the Big East Conference as early as this fall, according to reports Thursday from multiple national news outlets.
The Big East's seven departing Catholic schools will likely start their own league next season and keep the Big East Conference name, unnamed sources told ESPN.com and SI.com.
Joining the Catholic 7 schools—DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall, and Villanova—in the new "Big East" this fall will be Xavier University and Butler, ESPN’s sources said.
Butler has not yet withdrawn from the Atlantic 10, which it joined this season after more than 20 years in the Horizon League and its predecessors. Reports indicated that the penalty for leaving the A-10 conference would amount to $2 million for Butler.
However, the move has been anticipated for several months. In December, Butler University President James Danko refused to rule out the possibility once word leaked out of the new conference forming.
“Our administrators, our coaches, our trustees and our team will continue to do what is right for Butler and its students,” Danko said. “Decisions will be made, first and foremost, with the university‘s strong values and the Butler Way at heart.”
The Catholic 7's exit from the Big East is being expedited by Fox Sports Network, according to ESPN.com. The network initially contacted the seven schools and laid the groundwork for them to leave the Big East with the promise of a lucrative media-rights deal, a source said.
Contacted by IBJ, a spokesman for Butler declined to comment Friday morning on the potential deal.
According to ESPN, Fox Sports Network is expected to announce the addition of the Catholic 7/Big East basketball league Tuesday in New York as part of the network's news conference announcing the addition of Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2 channels.