Once a powerhouse in women’s basketball, the Big East Conference is now with so many schools leaving: an afterthought. A once vibrant conference is on the cusp of becoming a forgotten entity.
With today’s vote, seven schools have agreed to leave the Big East: DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Villanova. This conundrum leaves University of Connecticut in a very precarious position because the “gold standard” that Big East had become has now become very dull — nothing more than fool’s gold.
None of these aforementioned schools have a FBS football team and they got proactive. They saw the “tea leaves” and the trend that was taking place in college athletics — schools with FBS football teams were holding other schools like them hostage.
Rumor has it that Connecticut was/is still hoping for an invite to the Atlantic Coast Conference but the ACC decided to go with Louisville, undoubtedly because the Cardinals are better in football. And even though we don’t like this, football is driving these moves almost like an 18-wheeler semi-trailer truck in rush to meet its next delivery.
The Huskies success over the years has been in the large part because you could tell many recruits, “That they would be playing for an elite program in an elite conference”; the latter part of that statement ceases to exist no matter what the Big East does going forward.
In the past 24 months, a total of 14 schools have said that they would be leaving the Big East for greener pastures: the seven above plus Louisville, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, TCU and West Virginia.
There’s no way the Big East as we know it can survive as one of the elite conferences in women’s basketball — it’s just not realistic or sustainable. Not only will these phenomenal teams be leaving, think about the litany of legendary coaches as well. No more, Muffet McGraw, C. Vivian Stringer and her famous glare, Jeff Walz screaming at the referees or Quentin Hillsman and his sideline antics. Gone will be Mike Carey and his famous defense that frustrated teams to no end.
Think about the myriad of great teams over the past years, the heated battles and intense rivalries: Connecticut vs. Notre Dame, St. John’s vs. Rutgers, Connecticut vs. St. John’s and the list goes on. No matter how many try and spin this, you can’t duplicate or replace the legacies that have been created — it’s not a good day for women’s basketball in the Big East.
As a matter of fact, it’s a SAD day for women’s basketball. It’s almost like watching the soap opera, “As the World Turns.” But unlike in the soap opera which is just acting — this is real life that affects real fans, real people, real coaches and most importantly student-athletes.
What was once the Big East is now on the brink of becoming the “Big L-East.”