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University Beat

Big East Could Topple with One More Defection

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USF may soon be on the hunt for a new athletic conference to play in if just one more team defects from the Big East, according to the Providence Journal.

If Louisville and/or Connecticut leave the conference, as has been reported, the Journal says the seven conference schools that don't field football teams (DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John’s and Villanova) could vote to leave the conference.

One constantly discussed scenario is the seven basketball schools "going out on their own." That won't happen but what is becoming possible is a ``dissolving'' of the conference. According to the Big East's bylaws, the conference can be dissolved by a two-thirds vote of all members. With one more defection, the seven basketball schools would own that voting advantage over the three remaining all-sports members.

Rutgers' recent defection to the Big Ten, combined with the previous departures of Notre Dame, Syracuse and Pitt, leaves USF, Cincinnati, Louisville and UConn as the only members that field football teams.

Dissolving the conference would allow any departing teams to avoid an exit fee estimated at between $10 million and $20 million.

Any such move would need to come soon--Temple, Central Florida, Houston, Memphis and SMU all join the Big East in July 2013 and would have voting rights, which could block the dissolution.