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DePaul’s new league could form quickly

DePaul guard BrandYoung left blocks shot by Louisville guard Russ Smith during first half an NCAA college basketball game Rosemont

DePaul guard Brandon Young, left, blocks a shot by Louisville guard Russ Smith during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Rosemont, Ill., on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

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Updated: February 28, 2013 11:41PM

Rights to the Big East Conference name won’t be “essential” to the departing seven non-football playing schools as they move closer to an exit date. But making the move sooner than later is becoming more paramount.

“I think if you’re going to do something, the sooner the better, but obviously there are considerations,” DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said. “Whether it’s negotiations on names or where the tournament would be, what other schools would be involved, those kinds of things used to take time. I don’t know anymore.”

Presidents from the seven schools — DePaul, Marquette, Georgetown, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Villanova and Providence — have been meeting regularly in recent weeks and with their legal counsel as talks continue with the conference.

While the schools — and departing Notre Dame — have indicated a timetable likely will keep them united for one more season, there is speculation that matters might escalate.

“My hope is that it can get done before the [conference] tournament so that the focus will be on the student-athletes rather than who is going to be in what conference because the kids deserve that,” DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto said. “That said, I haven’t been told anything. It’s just my hope.”

The schools have been in negotiation with the conference since December, when they made known their intent to leave. But like Notre Dame, which gave notice months before of its plans to join the Atlantic Coast Conference, financial considerations remain high on the negotiation list. The schools would be required to pay departure penalties of as much as $5 million each if they exit before a 27-month waiting period.

But Ponsetto said “it’s not out of the question” that matters could move more swiftly in the coming days.

Rutgers and Louisville also have given notice they will leave the league. Rutgers will join the Big Ten by 2014 and Louisville the ACC at an undetermined date. Pittsburgh and Syracuse will join the ACC next season.

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