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DePaul, six other schools pass official vote to leave Big East

DePaul guard BrandYoung celebrates after teammate scored basket during first half an NCAA college basketball game against AustPeay Rosemont Ill.

DePaul guard Brandon Young celebrates after a teammate scored a basket during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Austin Peay in Rosemont, Ill., on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. DePaul won 98-67. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

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Updated: January 17, 2013 6:46AM

DePaul and its six fellow non-football Catholic partners in the Big East voted to leave the conference.

The unanimous vote among the seven university presidents came Saturday morning, six days after the schools met with Big East commissioner Mike Aresco in New York to make known their concerns about the conference moving toward a football-oriented league.

In a joint statement, the university presidents said the shifting emphasis framed their decision.

“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 statement said. “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.’’

The statement gave no timetable for exit plans, a name for the league or how many members it might eventually have.

DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto said such details will evolve in the next several months.

“At this point, the only thing is the presidents have voted and we’ll look toward building a conference that is basketball-oriented,’’ she said. “There are a lot of details that have to be sorted out, and that will take us several months to get our arms around. The important thing is the presidents have said, ‘This is what is in our best interests.’

“The good thing is the football schools will be able to go their way and the basketball schools the same. We enjoyed our time with the Big East, but we’re excited about our future.’’

The seven schools are DePaul, Marquette, Georgetown, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Villanova and Providence.

They will form the core of what is expected to become a conference of up to 12 members. Some will be other Catholic schools without football, though non-Catholic schools such as Butler also might be part of the mix.

Aresco issued a statement saying the remaining members of the Big East ‘‘are confident and united regarding our collective future.

“We have a strong conference with respected national universities, and we are working together to forge the future. We have a variety of options and are looking forward with great partnership, collegiality and optimism.’’

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