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New Big East likely to trigger more conference defections

Creighton's Doug McDermott (3) goes for basket with teammate Gregory Echenique right second half an NCAA college basketball game against

Creighton's Doug McDermott (3) goes for a basket with teammate Gregory Echenique, right, in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Wichita State in Omaha, Neb., Saturday, March 2, 2013. McDermott scored 41 points in Creighton's 91-79

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Updated: April 8, 2013 7:47AM

Mid-major basketball conferences are bracing for the fallout that will come with the formation of the new Big East Conference.

Membership defections could come in Midwest leagues as they adjust to a new landscape triggered by the formation of the new Big East of DePaul, Marquette, Georgetown, Seton Hall, Villanova, St. John’s and Providence.

``We’re all trying to contemplate the new world order and how different times might be next year and the year after,’’ said Horizon League commissioner Jon LeCrone. ``We’ve been anticipating this for at least 12 months and we’ve been talking on a regular basis. `What’s the appropriate response to the shifting landscape of college basketball?’ ‘’

The new Big East is expected to announce this week it will begin play this fall as a nine-member league, seven from the old Big East and Butler and Xavier from the Atlantic 10.

That membership could expand quickly with A-10 member Dayton and Missouri Valley Conference members Creighton and Saint Louis said to be potential future members by 2014-15.

Those departures will cause a ripple effect on the A-10, Missouri Valley and other leagues as they scramble to keep membership or expand it to survive.

LeCrone said he has been in regular contact with commissioners from the Missouri Valley, A-10, Colonial Athletic and the Summit League ``to figure out how we can work together to the betterment of all.’’

``The sooner [the Big East acts] the better,’’ he said.

``We can survive as a nine-member league. But we not only want to maintain our brand, we want to improve on it. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about our internal growth. We want to improve in scheduling, officiating, basketball operations, competitiveness and student development issues.

``When you consider where we want to be basketball-wise, it’s hard not to consider expansion in this environment,’’ he added. ``We want to remain a top brand. I think our league is pretty well positioned [to remain intact.]’’

All conferences have ``wish lists’’ of potential future members—and of potential member defectors.

``I think we’re pretty well-positioned to take advantage of opportunities [to expand] than to be too worried about departures,’’ he said. ``The wild-card is you don’t know who or when. It would be naïve to think schools would not be presented with other options,’’ he added.

`I think we’ll see some clarity in the next 30 to 45 days.’’

Formation of the new Big East also leaves Notre Dame in a quandary as it seeks to move to the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Fighting Irish have not yet negotiated their separation from the Big East. The ACC has indicated it will accept Notre Dame this year in light of the hastened exit of the Catholic 7, but Notre Dame may be forced to pay high fees to the old Big East to do so.

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