It’s official: Xavier joins the new Big East

Xavier will be a member of the revamped Big East conference beginning in the 2013-14 school year, the Big East and the school announced Tuesday morning.  

The new Big East will include conference holdovers Georgetown, Villanova, St. John’s, Providence, Marquette, DePaul and Seton Hall – the so-called “Catholic 7” – as well as newcomers Butler and Creighton. The Catholic 7 split amicably from the Division I football-playing members of the Big East last week and came to an agreement that enables them to keep the Big East name. Georgetown, Providence, St. John’s and Seton Hall were founding members of the Big East in 1979 under the leadership of the late Dave Gavitt.

The conference will continue to hold its annual basketball tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York City. 

“There are a lot of really good schools out there that we thought would want to join us,” said Providence College president Brian J. Shanley. “We used the same criteria that we did when Dave was starting this. We looked for schools that had academic profiles like us. We want to be with really good academic schools. We want to be with schools that really do believe in the old student-athlete, and both of those things are really important.

“We wanted schools with strong, sustainable and sustained athletic programs. And, we wanted schools that can play really good basketball because that’s really the bread-and-butter of the Big East.”

Xavier is leaving the Atlantic 10 conference after 16 seasons. Butler is leaving the A-10 after one season in the league, while Creighton is departing the Missouri Valley Conference after a second tour with the MVC that began in 1976. Creighton won the MVC’s regular-season and conference tournament titles this season and will play Cincinnati in the NCAA tournament Friday at Philadelphia.

Xavier finished this season 17-14 and is not playing in the postseason for the first time since 2005. It lost to St. Joseph’s 58-57 in the opening round of the A-10 tournament last week. This snaps a streak of seven consecutive NCAA tournament appearances for the Musketeers, including four trips to the Sweet 16 in the previous five seasons.  

Xavier president Michael J. Graham was in New York for the official announcement, done in conjunction FOX Sports. The parties also announced a 12-year contract between the new Big East and FOX Sports to broadcast the league’s sports over multiple platforms, including FOX Sports 1, which is set to launch on Aug. 17. 

Xavier had an athletic budget of $14,774,269 in 2011-12 according to the US Department of Education’s Equity in Athletics Data Analysis. The move to the Big East is expected to enable Xavier to increase that budget in the coming years.

“It’s an endorsement of who we are and how we’ve gotten here, as well as where we can go next,” Graham said. “So it’s not just about athletics — it’s about the whole institution and about the institution at its heart, which is an academic place.”