Byline: Jennifer Toland
Last weekend's announcement that seven Catholic schools are breaking from the Big East Conference to form their own basketball-centered league has a lot of Holy Cross supporters wondering if the new conference could mean new opportunities for HC.
"There's no way of knowing at this point," Holy Cross director of athletics Dick Regan said Tuesday. "I honestly don't know if there's an opportunity for us or not at this point. It's too early to try to guess at something."
St. John's, Providence, Seton Hall and Georgetown, founding members of the Big East in 1979, as well as Villanova, Marquette and DePaul, all non-Football Bowl Subdivision schools like Holy Cross, will be eligible, under league bylaws, to depart the Big East on June 30, 2015.
According to reports, Xavier, Dayton, Creighton and Gonzaga - also Catholic schools with strong basketball programs - could be candidates to join the departing Big East schools in the new league. Non-Catholic schools like Butler and Virginia Commonwealth also have been mentioned.
"There is a lot of interest and people are talking about it, but right now there has been no serious discussion at Holy Cross," Regan said. "And it is complicated. It isn't just a simple matter of Holy Cross decides they want to do it and they're in. It looks like it's going to be a national conference. They could have West Coast teams in this thing. At this point, there are far more questions than there are answers."
With speculation about the formation of a Catholic conference heating up about a year ago, and with last weekend's official announcement, several members of the Worcester City Council pledged strong support for Holy Cross if the opportunity arose and the college were interested in becoming part of a major conference. Such a move obviously could have a positive economic impact on the city, especially if HC were to play its home basketball games at the DCU Center.
Holy Cross is a member of the Patriot League in all major sports except men's and women's ice hockey. Men's hockey competes in the Atlantic Hockey Association, women's hockey in ECAC East.
Earlier this year, there was talk that the HC men's hockey team may be a candidate to join Hockey East, but in June, UConn accepted the invitation to become that league's 12th member.
The current eight-team Patriot League will expand to 10 teams in 2013-14 with the addition of Boston University and Loyola (Maryland).