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DePaul looking to cash in as new conference getting lucrative TV offers

Charles McKinney Rob Chubb

Charles McKinney, Rob Chubb

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Updated: January 6, 2013 11:16PM

Television networks already are lining up to negotiate with the seven Catholic universities exiting the Big East, but the parameters of those negotiations will involve more than dollars.

In addition to the substantial revenue any TV deal would generate, the seven schools, DePaul, Marquette, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Georgetown, Providence and Villanova, also are interested in establishing coast-to-coast exposure that can advertise ‘‘the brand’’ of the new league.

Sources said Sunday that ESPN, Fox Sports and NBC Sports Network have approached the group’s attorneys and communications adviser, Neal Pilson, but other issues must be settled first, including an exit from the Big East.

Pilson is the former president of CBS Sports.

The Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, DePaul’s president, was among the seven who met Friday in New York in the latest planning session.

The advisers are expected to field TV proposals, but the talks are preliminary until the timetable and terms of the departure from the Big East are settled.

‘‘We’ve hired a very capable television consultant in Neal Pilson, and I know everyone wants our product,’’ DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto said. ‘‘But I don’t think you can negotiate a television deal until you know when you will leave.’’

The Big East is pressing to keep the seven for at least one more year.

There is one more reason why any television deal must wait, sources said. The remaining Big East members might seek to ­extract more money if it was known those leaving were sitting on a big TV package.

The seven currently receive about $2 million each from the Big East television deal that expires after this season. Additional revenue comes from the NCAA tournament and Big East tournament, held annually at Madison Square Garden in New York.

The proposed packages would offer at least twice the current payout.

But because the group knows it has a valued product, it is not inclined to rush.

The same is true for membership in the new conference, with schools from the Atlantic 10 and Missouri Valley conferences already expressing interest in joining.

The likely additional partners will be Butler and Xavier from the Atlantic 10 and Creighton from the Missouri Valley, giving the new conference 10 members.

But the ranks could expand to 12 by the time play begins as the group weighs offers from other schools.

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