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DePaul, six schools leaving Big East; announcement coming as soon as Friday

DePaul forward Moses Morgan (15) guard BrandYoung (20) center Derrell RobertsJr. smile as they watch teammates play against Milwaukee during

DePaul forward Moses Morgan (15), guard Brandon Young (20) and center Derrell Robertson Jr., smile as they watch teammates play against Milwaukee during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Rosemont, Ill., Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012. DePaul won 84-50. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

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Updated: January 15, 2013 11:47AM

DePaul and six other non-football members of the Big East could announce as soon as Friday the parameters of their exit from the conference and formation of a new league.

The seven held a conference call Thursday with Big East commissioner Mike Aresco about their decision to leave the conference, but details of the separation and how they will proceed have yet to be made final.

DePaul spokesman Greg Greenwell said the school had no official statement Thursday, but sources said a statement was expected soon, possibly a joint statement agreed to by all seven.

Joining DePaul in making the move to separate are Marquette, Georgetown, Seton Hall, Providence, Villanova and St. John’s. The Big East has seen its membership change dramatically as football interests continue to crater the college landscape.

The seven are a majority of the current voting membership of 10 in the conference and can leave without paying a penalty. They also can maintain rights to an automatic NCAA tournament bid by leaving as a group after having been united in a league for at least five years.

DePaul and Marquette joined the Big East in 2005, while the other five schools are longstanding members.

Sources say other schools already have been in contact with representatives of the seven about joining with them in what likely would be a league of aligned Catholic schools with basketball traditions. The initial size is projected to be 10, including possible membership by Dayton and Xavier from the Atlantic 10 and Creighton from the Missouri Valley Conference. But such specifics would be worked out as part of the ongoing planning.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame’s plans to exit the Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference remain unchanged, with its football program to remain independent.

‘‘It’s another blow we all felt was coming,’’ Irish basketball coach Mike Brey said of the move by the other Catholic members. ‘‘It’s one of the reasons we made the move to the ACC. But to see that league maybe breaking off, it’s hard for anyone who invested a lot of time in the league.

‘‘When I look at what’s going on, I am really thankful that we landed in the ACC when we did. When I look at the climate right now with the Big East, maybe that does get us [to the ACC] next year.

‘‘I had very mixed emotions [about leaving the Big East] because our identity and my identity had been with the Big East, and I’m really proud of being a Big East guy.’’

Brey added he hopes to continue playing the exiting Catholic schools, which have longstanding rivalries with the Fighting Irish.

Contributing: Mark Lazerus

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