Marissa Amendolia, Chris Bien / The Hoya Senior guard Jason Clark (top left) has spent his career competing in the bruising Big East. The departures of Syracuse and Pittsburgh and the potential loss of UConn could cause a mass exodus of talent.
Marissa Amendolia, Chris Bien / The Hoya
Senior guard Jason Clark (top left) has spent his career competing in the bruising Big East. The departures of Syracuse and Pittsburgh and the potential loss of UConn could cause a mass exodus of talent.

With Sunday’s announcement that Big East Conference members Syracuse and Pittsburgh will move to the Atlantic Coast Conference, speculation has mounted as to whether the Big East will remain intact.

“As a founding member of the Big East in 1979, we have confronted challenging moments in the past and we are confident that as we work through the events of the past days we will maintain the high quality of the Big East Conference,” Georgetown Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Lee Reed said in a statement released on Sunday night. “We are fully engaged with the leadership of the university and are confident that the Big East Conference is being proactive during this period of change in college athletics. This is obviously a fluid situation with a great deal of speculation about the future of our league, but we will continue to discuss with our leadership what is in the best interest of Georgetown University.”

Reed concluded his remarks by saying, “At Georgetown University, we strive to be the best athletics program that we can be, and that is never more true than today. I am confident that no matter how the college athletics landscape change, Georgetown will continue to be a factor.”

Men’s basketball Head Coach John Thompson III also released a statement, saying “It’s been clear for two years, if not longer, that the landscape of intercollegiate athletics is fluid and is changing. The Big East is no different. In the future, be it the very near future or longer than that, we are going to undergo a transformation, a change.”

Thompson led the Hoyas to back-to-back Big East regular season titles in 2007 and 2008.

“If you look at our history, the Big East has undergone changes in the past, be it subtractions or additions, and we’ve always emerged with quality teams that compete for and win championships,” Thompson said.

Pittsburgh was the most recent men’s basketball regular season champion under Head Coach Jamie Dixon, who fueled further speculation about possible Big East departures.

“We’re going to have a lot of Big East schools that are going to be with us in the ACC,” Dixon told The Washington Post.

The Big East has faced departures before. In 2003, Boston College, Virginia Tech and Miami all left for the ACC. But when the news broke this weekend that Pittsburgh and Syracuse would submit applications to the ACC, it left many scrambling. The Big East, better known for its basketball prowess, currently features just eight football playing schools – Syracuse, Pittsburgh, South Florida, Louisville, West Virginia, Connecticut, Rutgers and Cincinnati — as well as Texas Christian University, which will join the league next season.

That compares with the men’s and women’s basketball league rosters, which include the Bowl Champion Series football schools plus Villanova, Marquette, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Providence, DePaul and Georgetown. Notre Dame’s football team currently carries “independent” status in Division I BCS football.

The departures have created a flurry of conference realignment possibilities, and the uncertain future of the Big East has caused Connecticut to rethink its conference options.

“From a basketball standpoint, I would love to be at the most powerful conference in America,” Connecticut men’s basketball Head Coach Jim Calhoun told The Associated Press on Monday.

As for the future of the Big East, the Associated Press reported that if Texas and Oklahoma leave the Big 12 conference — a decision that could cause several other Big 12 teams to leave the conference — then the Big East and Big 12 will seek a possible merger.

The new Big 12 would likely still contain Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Iowa State and Baylor. If that were to occur, the new super conference could contain 20 teams, assuming Connecticut and Rutgers remain in the league. The five aforementioned Big 12 schools all have BCS football programs.

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