Marquette Announces Future Plans For Conference Affiliation
Dec. 15, 2012
Statement from the presidents of the seven basketball member schools of the Big East conference
Earlier today 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. 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.
We are grateful to our Commissioner, Michael Aresco, for his exceptional leadership of the Big East Conference. We have been honored to be associated with the outstanding group of institutions that have made up the Big East. While we pursue this opportunity for our institutions, we believe the efforts of the past two years have established the foundation for an enduring national football conference.
We look forward to building this new foundation with an emphasis on elite competition and a commitment to the development of our students engaged in intercollegiate athletics. That is where we will now spend our energy as we move forward.
Statement from Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., president of Marquette University:
Marquette University, along with six other colleges and universities, has made a decision to withdraw from the Big East Conference. Former Big East Conference members, DePaul University, Georgetown University, Providence College, Seton Hall University, St. John's University and Villanova University have also withdrawn, and together we will explore our options to develop a premier athletics conference centered on elite-level basketball.
The seven presidents and athletic directors of the universities previously named have been in a thoughtful dialogue to ensure we jointly solidify our vision and commitment to compete at the absolute highest levels of athletic excellence for many years to come.
This move will allow us to enhance the elite status of our men's basketball program, while developing new opportunities for student athletes in all 16 of our competitive athletic programs.
Marquette Head Men's Basketball Coach Buzz Williams:
"The institutions that have been committed to men's basketball have made a decision that they are going to stay committed to men's basketball. As a men's basketball coach I am 1,000 percent supportive of that. Regardless of what the name is and regardless of who they add or when they add, I can't ascertain those answers. Nor do I think they can. I can tell you that the decision was made collectively because there is a commitment from Marquette and the other six institutions that men's basketball is really important. I think that is outstanding.
"That is not to be disrespectful to the history or tradition or all of the things that college basketball has benefitted from by the BIG EAST and former commissioners Dave Gavitt and Dan Gavitt and by the current commissioner. That is not to be negative. It was the decision by those presidents and those ADs and those vice presidents that men's basketball is really important. From a going-forward standpoint, the one thing that you can say at Marquette and at the institutions that will be in that league, this is THE basketball league in the country. I think that is really important."
Father Scott R. Pilarz, S.J. Postgame Comments:
“Good afternoon. It was a great win for Marquette today, in this game and in terms of our conference affiliation start day for the University. We are very pleased at the relationships we are forming together with the other six schools as we move forward. This process has been going on for some time and we wanted to do the right thing for the right reason, so there has been diligence in the deliberations. We are very happy that we are at the place we are today. I want to thank Larry Williams, in a very special way, for the leadership that he has exercised during this process. He has been a terrific asset to Marquette and to the conference. I want to acknowledge that and thank him.
“We were very conscious of wanting the best for all of our student-athletes at Marquette. We are incredibly proud of them. Our student-athletes, across the board, are among our very finest women and men who are attending the University and we want to make sure they are in the right place. We are absolutely confident that they are going forward. We were very deliberate about making sure that there will be a bright future for every student-athlete at Marquette.”
Vice President & Director of Athletics Larry Williams Postgame comments:
“We couldn’t be more excited as administrators about the future of Marquette basketball and the basketball that is played by our fellow members. It is a common and universal commitment to elite level basketball and other sports. It is really going to be an exciting future.
“We don’t have enough time in a press conference to ask all the questions that need to be asked. There is a lot of work to do and there will be a mutual commitment to getting about that work as quickly as possible. We will hold off answering any questions going forward and as information becomes available and decisions are made, we will be more than quick to communicate those out.
“As Father said, these have been thoughts and conversations that have been ongoing for quite some time. There has been a whole bunch of things that occurred over the course of the last couple of years in all of college athletics. We have shifting landscapes and as we surveyed that landscape a collection of all of those moves led us to this decision. I wouldn’t point to one particular instance that was the straw that broke the camel’s back or anything like that. It was, rather, an amalgamation of all those issues.
“We envision an orderly transition and we would like to work with our current conference members to find appropriate solutions for both sides, as there is a split. We want this to be an amicable parting as we go our separate ways. Those issues will all be addressed in due course.
“In general terms, we feel comfortable that this group and this intent of being elite in basketball and other sports has staying power, it has market value. We feel very confident. Without getting into any specifics, because the specifics aren’t finished yet, we feel very good, very comfortable about controlling our destiny more than anything. Part of that control is being supported by many entities.
“I am really excited about the future, so I can’t tell you how much that I think this is a good day. Sure, there are bittersweet thoughts to it about some of the things that have been accomplished by this institution and a couple of our fellow departing institutions, relative to their association with the BIG EAST. Our focus is on the future and we couldn’t be more excited.”
Comment from Michael Aresco and the BIG EAST Presidents:
“The basketball institutions have notified us that they plan to withdraw from the BIG EAST Conference. The membership recognizes their contributions over the long distinguished history of the BIG EAST. The 13 members of the Conference are confident and united regarding our collective future. We have a strong Conference with respected national universities, and are working together to forge the future. We have a variety of options, and are looking forward with great partnership, collegiality and optimism.”