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Article updated: 12/16/2012 12:44 AM

Questions — and possible answers — about Big East upheaval, future

By Scot Gregor

DePaul still has to decide if it wants to keep playing home basketball games at Allstate Arena or move to a new arena closer to its Lincoln Park campus.

The Blue Demons also have to do a better job mining talent in the Chicago Public League, although they did land Morgan Park's Billy Garrett Jr. for next season. The son of DePaul assistant Billy Garrett, Garrett Jr. is one of the top high school point guards in the country.

The Blue Demons did clear a major hurdle Saturday regarding their conference.

When schools like Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Louisville and West Virginia started exiting the Big East in recent years and were replaced by schools like San Diego State, East Carolina, Central Florida and Navy, the conference was viewed as a joke.

Instead of laughing to keep from crying, the Big East's seven basketball-rooted schools -- DePaul, Marquette, St. John's, Villanova, Georgetown, Seton Hall and Providence -- huddled to discuss their collective futures.

On Saturday, the presidents of all seven universities voted to exit the Big East and form a new league built around basketball.

"Earlier (Saturday) we voted unanimously to pursue an orderly evolution to a foundation of basketball schools that honors the history and tradition on which the Big East was established," the presidents said in a joint statement. "Under the current context of conference realignment, we believe pursuing a new basketball framework that builds on this tradition of excellence and competition is the best way forward."

Plenty of questions remain in the wake of a decision that makes good sense for all schools involved:

ŸWhen will DePaul, Marquette, St. John's, etc., leave the Big East?

Under league bylaws, schools have to wait 27 months or pay an early exit fee. If DePaul and the six other schools stay put in order to save money, a new league would not officially launch until June 2015.

But given the current condition of the Big East, the league is likely to collapse well before that date.

ŸWould the new league still be called the Big East?

It's not likely, although the seven presidents reportedly would like to retain the name of the conference and continue playing the postseason tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

ŸIs the new league going to consist of just seven schools?

There are many decisions that lie ahead, but expect the conference to add a few more programs.

Xavier and Butler currently compete in the Atlantic 10 Conference, but they would be natural fits. Missouri Valley Conference basketball power Creighton is another possible add, as are Dayton and Saint Louis.

Like all of the bizarre comings and goings on the collegiate landscape, this figures to be a messy split for DePaul and the six other schools.

But it will be worth all of the headaches, especially considering the "new" Big East has become a disjointed football-oriented conference.

The Blue Demons joined the Big East in 2005-06 after playing in the Great Midwest and Conference USA for 14 years. Prior to that, DePaul was an independent power that was able to recruit star players from coast to coast thanks to its national exposure on WGN-TV.

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