Butler President James Danko won’t say whether his school will consider making a second conference change in less than 12 months.
He’s just not ruling it out.
”I’d rather not talk about it until something happens,” Danko told The Associated Press when asked Saturday to flatly dismiss speculation that the Bulldogs would join the seven Catholic schools leaving the Big East to form their own basketball-centric conference.
Butler has been in the discussion almost from the moment word leaked about the possible departure of the seven schools that don’t play major college football.
On Thursday, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported Marquette and the other exiting Big East members wanted to form a league consisting of 10 to 12 schools. The list began with Georgetown, St. John’s, Providence, DePaul, Seton Hall and Villanova, who have been playing in the Big East.
The story also said Atlantic 10 members Butler and Xavier might be interested in joining, too.
Bulldogs athletic director Barry Collier, the former basketball coach, declined to comment on the story Friday.
On Saturday, Collier and Danko were seated near one another at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the home of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers, as they watched Butler upset No. 1 Indiana 88-86 in overtime. It’s the first time Butler (8-2) has ever beaten the nation’s top-ranked team, and the win may only help Butler’s case to join a league with bigger schools.
”We’d have to wait to see what happens,” Danko said during a short break in the second half. ”I don’t really have any comment right now.”
When asked whether he would completely dismiss the rumors, Danko did not.
Atlantic 10 officials could not immediately be reached for comment following Butler’s victory.
Since bursting onto college basketball’s national map with back-to-back runs to the national championship game in 2010 and 2011, Butler has been a top attraction for leagues looking to expand or, in this case, new ones forming.
In May, Danko announced Butler, one of the founding members of the Midwestern City Conference that was later renamed the Horizon League, would move to the Atlantic 10 in 2013-14. This summer, the school and officials from both leagues said the move was being expedited and would take place immediately.
Butler is scheduled to play its first Atlantic 10 game Jan. 9 at St. Joseph’s.
Now, though, the wheel of conference realignment could be spinning again.
According to Thursday’s report, having Butler would give the new league the option of playing its league tournament on NBA courts in Indy or New York’s Madison Square Garden or that there could be a possible rotation between the two.
Indy already has a deal with the Big Ten to play its tournament at Bankers Life in even-numbered years through 2016.
John Dedman, a spokesman for Indiana Sports Corp., the organization that traditionally bids on bringing sporting events to Indy, said the group has not been contacted about hosting the tournament by those trying to form the new league.