Cincinnati, UConn To Break Away From Big East, Form Big East

Michael Heiman

Basically, UConn and Cincinnati really, really, REALLY don't want to be in the same conference as Houston, SMU, Tulane, Navy and ECU.

According to a report in Sporting News, UConn and Cincinnati could leave the Big East to form ... the Big East.

"Sources close to the discussions told Sporting News on Friday that one possibility to give the Bearcats and Huskies a home, which is at the early stages of discussion, would be a cross-continent all-sports league involving disenfranchised members of the Big East as well as the most prominent members of the Mountain West."

The proposed entrants would be: UConn (Big East), Cincinnati (Big East), South Florida (Big East), Memphis (Big East 2013), Temple (Big East), Boise State (Big East 2013), San Diego State (Big East 2013), UNLV (was going to be added to the Big East soon, anyway), New Mexico (see note on UNLV) and possibly BYU (nope) or Central Florida (Big East 2013).

Basically, UConn and Cincinnati really, really, REALLY don't want to be in the same conference as Houston, SMU, Tulane, Navy and ECU.

The best part of this plan is that this new conference would merely be used as a bargaining chip to land UConn and Cincinnati in the ACC.

"In order to form such a league, however, UConn and Cincinnati would have to make some sort of profound commitment -- perhaps even a "grant of rights" similar to the Big 12's, meaning they'd lose their media revenue for the length of time if they leave -- to convince the Western schools involved that they would not exit immediately if invited to join the ACC.

That could become leverage to convince current members of the ACC -- especially some of its more vulnerable longtime schools, such as Duke and Wake Forest, to invite Cincinnati and UConn now and bring the current conference membership to 16."

According to the report, at some point soon, Duke, Wake Forest and one or two others might get left behind as Florida State and Clemson bolt for the Big 12, Virginia Tech and N.C. State to the SEC and North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia Tech scurry off to the Big Ten. Did I get all that right?

That would leave Duke and Wake Forest with Syracuse, Pitt and Louisville to keep them company (again, according to the report). No word on what becomes of Boston College, Miami or Notre Dame in this scenario.

Imagine the scene. University of Connecticut president Susan Herbst and Cincinnati president Santa Ono are in a room, poised to put their signatures on a Transcontinental Conference Grant of Rights agreement. As pen hits paper, ACC Commissioner John Swofford busts through the door and yells STOP! ...

Apparently the prospects of losing UConn and Cincinnati to the Transcontinental Conference will be enough to force Swofford to realize that they desperately need all that Husky and Bearcat TV money they passed over seven times before. Also, I'm not sure how UConn and Cincinnati can successfully use this as a bargaining chip now that everyone has been made aware of the two school's real motives here.

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