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Creighton Joins Big East Conference

Kevin Sarver introduces the Fox Sports announcement of the Big East Conference agreement. (Adam Streur/WBR)

Kevin Sarver introduces the Fox Sports announcement of the Big East Conference agreement. (Adam Streur/WBR)

It became official on Wednesday morning just after 10am local time: Creighton graduated from the land of mid-major athletics and joined the majors, accepting an offer to become a member of the Big East Conference. The (new) Big East will be forged from holdover members DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Villanova and fellow newcomers Xavier and Butler, both formerly of the Atlantic 10 Conference. Creighton’s first day as a Big East member will be July 1, 2013, and their first athletic competition as a member of the new league is expected to come on the soccer pitch this fall.

Shortly after Creighton made their announcement, becoming the third school to do so on Wednesday morning following Butler and Xavier, the league announced a television partnership with Fox Sports at a press conference in New York hosted by Gus Johnson. The 12-year contract is reported to be valued at $500 million, and will put at least 100 men’s basketball games per season on Fox Sports 1, including the conference tournament, which will be held at Madison Square Garden through the 2025-26 season. Fox’s television deal extends to all sports, and they indicated at Wednesday’s press conference that they anticipate showing women’s basketball and baseball, among others, on their new national sports network. The Fox deal extends to all platforms, including TV Everywhere, but the conference will set up it’s own digital platform (presumably for webcasting games not televised by Fox).

“This is an opportunity to align ourselves with like-minded institutions in terms of academics, athletics, and overall mission,” Assistant Athletic Director Mark Burgers said following the press conference. “What people don’t realize is that this is an institutional move as much as, if not more, it is an athletics move. The schools in the Big East are faith-based institutions that have a similar mission to Creighton’s. If you go through the list of schools in the newly-formed league – Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette, Butler, DePaul, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Xavier – you’re talking about some schools with a pretty rich athletic history. We’re awfully proud of the things our alumni have accomplished and we feel our deep tradition fits right in.”

Creighton leaves behind a substantial legacy in the Missouri Valley Conference, including a historic 2012-13 season that saw them win the regular season title in women’s basketball, both the regular season and tournament titles in men’s basketball, men’s soccer, and volleyball, and the conference tournament title in baseball.

It was hard to leave the Valley, as Burgers noted. “The most difficult part of the decision is that Creighton has molded many, many great relationships with the great institutions that comprise the league (MVC) as well as those in the conference office. Doug Elgin and his staff, administration at the various institutions, the coaches, staff, and student-athletes at each institution are first-class and our experience has been nothing short of excellent from the day we were accepted by the league. The Missouri Valley Conference is and will continue to be a great league and we will forever appreciate the great relationships and special memories. We certainly wish all of those associated with the Valley the very best.”

The crowd of media and fans inside DJ Sokol Arena watches the Fox Sports announcement. (Adam Streur/WBR)

The crowd of media and fans inside DJ Sokol Arena watches the Fox Sports announcement. (Adam Streur/WBR)

Here’s the official statement from athletic director Bruce Rasmussen:

And here’s the official statement from President Fr. Timothy Lannon:

Following the announcement, MVC Commissioner Doug Elgin put out a statement confirming that Creighton will exit the league effective June 30.

Learn a little more about the (New) Big East men’s basketball Teams and projected starting lineups for next season.

Stay with White & Blue Review for continuing coverage of this monumental news.

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