Big sign sends big message to Big East

Georgetown fans showed their support for Marquette’s new conference in a big way.

A group of Georgetown University basketball fans that call themselves The Stonewalls took Monday night's game against Marquette as an opportunity to send a message about just how much basketball means to them and the departing basketball-only members of the Big East Conference.

Not content with simply cheering, the fans created a giant 25-by-20-foot banner to unveil before the Golden Eagles and Hoyas tipped off at Verizon Center. It read "Basketball is our religion" and portrayed the seven departing “Catholic Seven” Big East schools — Georgetown, Marquette, DePaul, St. John's, Villanova, Providence and  Seton Hall — as hoody-wearing fans.

"The tifo echoes Georgetown coach John Thompson III's sentiments that while the schools forming this new league each value their Catholic identity, it is their long tradition of and commitment to basketball that will bond them together," according to the group's website. "The Stonewalls support these schools' trailblazing move and want to demonstrate to the sports world that fans of the Basketball 7 are passionate and excited for this new venture."

The banner is known in soccer circles as tifo, an Italian word for choreography displayed by fans in a stadium, and this isn't the first time The Stonewalls have produced an attention-grabbing slogan. Against Pittsburgh on Jan. 9, the group unveiled a banner that read "traitors and liars will not be missed" – taking a shot at a school headed for the ACC.       

Negotiations are ongoing between the Big East and the basketball-only schools that are breaking away from the conference, and no formal departure date has been set. Big East bylaws require a 27-month waiting period for departing members, but recent reports have indicated the 2014-15 season as the likely starting date for the new league.

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