The seven Catholic Big East schools officially announced on Saturday they are leaving the conference. St. John's, Seton Hall, Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette, Providence and DePaul released a statement saying the seven 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."
St. John's, Seton Hall, Georgetown and Providence are founding members of the Big East, which began playing basketball in 1979. Villanova joined the league in 1980. As a conference, the Big East did not even begin playing football until 1991.
Massive conference realignment, centered on football, forced the hand of the seven Catholic conference schools primarily focused on basketball. The defections of Syracuse, Louisville and Pittsburgh in recent years led to a weakening of the Big East's basketball profile, as those marquee programs were replaced with lesser basketball schools in Houston, Tulane and Central Florida.
In addition to the statement from the schools, the Big East conference also released a statement, acknowledging that the basketball-only schools notified the conference of their decision to withdraw.