COLUMNS

For the love of money

Kyle Riviere
Weekly Citizen Sports Editor Kyle Riviere

In the classic Ojays song "For the Love of Money," they sing, "for a small piece of paper, it carries a lot of weight." Well, that weight just crushed the Big East.

The conference may keep the name in the future, but after the seven traditional Catholic schools bolted last week, the Big East that we knew for so long is officially dead.

No one could have seen this coming just five years ago. Being a lackluster football conference for so many years finally came back to haunt them. And by doing so, the mediocrity of the football teams ended up destroying basketball's most storied conference.

So what led to the Big East's demise? Just follow the money. Swapping conferences became college presidents' favorite move to collect dollars as of late and as with anything, others followed suit as attempts to keep up with the Joneses.

The domino effect all really started with Nebraska two years ago. They joined the Big 10 to get a hold of their lucrative TV deal. It also created more revenue for the conference because it helped them create the Big 10 Championship Game.

That led to the Pac 10 expanding to the Pac 12 to add Utah and Colorado so they could create a championship game.

With the Big 12 down Nebraska and Colorado, they added West Virginia of the Big East. TCU then dropped out of their deal with the Big East and followed West Virginia to the Big 12.

With the Big East weakening due to the departures, other schools within the division decided to be proactive. This led to Pittsburgh and Syracuse abandoning ship and going to the ACC. Rutgers then left to the Big 10.

With the departures, there wasn't much left for the Big East. The low numbers propelled the seven basketball schools--Villanova, Georgetown, St. John's, DePaul, Marquette, Providence and Seton Hall to reluctantly decide to vacate the conference.

Now, what started as a few teams wanting to make a few more bucks and keep up with the other conferences in football, has culminated in the destruction of one of the country's best basketball conferences.

There is so much rich tradition--so many great memories associated with the Big East that are about to disappear.

The Big East Tournament was the greatest of all the conference tournaments. Sometimes, it ended up being more exciting and climatic than the NCAA Tournament.

From Kemba Walker and Uconn's run in that tournament in 2010, to Uconn and Syracuse's six-overtime epic in 2009, to Carmelo Anthony leading Syracuse to the title as a freshman in 2003 to the improbable Villanova upset over Georgetown for the national crown in 1985, the Big East gave us so much.

But now it's all over because to some presidents, that small piece of paper carried much more weight.