Thursday, May 22, 2003

OH COOL: Plan to keep traditional Big East rivalries alive:

Initial planning for a future without Miami, Boston College and Syracuse included exploration of a plan proposed by former commissioner and Big East founder Dave Gavitt. It might be the best plan for salvaging college football and basketball in the Northeast.

The plan calls for a confederation or alliance, with two eight-team leagues - one for basketball and one for football. Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese would serve as the chief executive officer of both leagues and a commissioner would be appointed for each.

The five remaining football schools - Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Rutgers and UConn - would anchor an eight-team all-sports league. Temple would likely be asked to rejoin that league. Louisville and Central Florida are two possibilities mentioned to bring the membership to eight.

There also is talk of congressional action that could help the Big East maintain its Bowl Championship Series status.

The second league would start with the six remaining non-football Catholic schools - St. John's, Seton Hall, Villanova, Georgetown, Providence and Notre Dame - and two additions from a strong pool that would include DePaul, Marquette, Dayton and Xavier.

According to Gavitt's plan, the two conferences would play intraleague games in a weekend basketball festival to begin the season at Madison Square Garden, then play four crossover games during the season to maintain longtime Big East rivalries. The games would count in the overall standings.

Remember: Big East=basketball.

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