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Is Big East Headed Towards Extinction?

According to a report by ESPN.com late Wednesday night, it's a real possibility the Big East could cease to exist.

The presidents of the seven catholic, non-Football Bowl Subdivision schools within the conference are expected to vote on their future within the next 24-48 hours.

The list of programs include DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. Johns, Seton Hall and Villanova. Sources told ESPN Wednesday that it's becoming "more likely" the basketball schools will break away from the league's football members.

While the league needs a two-thirds vote to dissolve the conference, that could be done if all the catholic schools vote on such an act, considering Temple can't vote on dissolution of the league. Without that Temple vote, and considering only 10 schools are allowed to vote altogether due to the defection of the league in recent years, that gives seven basketball schools just enough votes to dissolve the league, if they wanted to.

Louisville and UConn have already left for the ACC, and Cincinnati and South Florida heavily lobbied to get out of the Big East when the ACC was looking at replacements. It's obvious all the schools don't feel confident about the future of the league; a conference that was considered one of the best — if not the best — in all of college basketball just a couple years ago.

Like the rest of the entire conference shifts across the country, this Big East fiasco has to do with football television money. CBSSports.com projected that the Big East's media rights revenue would only be between $60 and $80 million next season; leaving only about $1 million per school. Not to mention Tulane, Houston and SMU are all expected to drag down the league's basketball standing.

If the league were to dissolve, the catholic schools could all retain their NCAA automatic berth eligibility. They could also start their own conference by adding just a few other schools. Another possibility would be for the programs to join up with the Atlantic 10 or simply go their separate ways, integrating into other conferences across the country; although the first two options seem more realistic.

With the craziness surrounding them, no one would know for sure what would happen to the remaining football schools: Cincinnati, UConn, South Florida, San Diego State and Boise State.

What would you call a conference that spreads across the entire United States and is plagued with mediocre teams ? There is already a conference USA.
 

Josh Helmuth is the editor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JHelmuth or subscribe at Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.