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Big East exit strategy gets touchy

Updated: January 29, 2013 1:51PM

The seven non-football playing schools leaving the Big East hope to exit after one more year in the conference.

Negotiations on the departure date are the first focus for attorneys representing the seven schools, which face a 27-month waiting period until June 30, 2015 to avoid paying exit penalties.

But establishing the departure date is important to the conference as well as it looks to its own membership future and television contracts.

The seven—DePaul, Marquette, St. John’s, Villanova, Georgetown, Seton Hall and Providence—hope to avoid paying penalties of as much as $5 million if they leave before the waiting period mandated in the conference by-laws.

Attorneys representing the seven have been in talks about exiting after playing the 2013-14 season, though some among the seven have hinted at wanting to leave after this season.

The seven aren’t the only schools negotiating their exit. Notre Dame, Rutgers and Louisville also are leaving the conference but have not struck deals on a timeline.

The conference negotiated early exits for Syracuse and Pittsburgh, which join the Atlantic Coast Conference next season, and for West Virginia, which joined the Big 12 last season.

The conference has added some new members for next season, including Tulane, Memphis, Houston and SMU. Navy is to join the conference in 2015 for football only.

The conference has its own interest in establishing membership certainty in order to negotiate its own future television contracts.

The contract with CBS and ESPN covering basketball expires after this season, though commissioner Mike Aresco has talked about a possible ``bridge’’ contract extending the current deal for one more season.

The football contract expires after the 2013 football season.

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