ESPN.com is reporting that seven Catholic basketball powers are talking about leaving the Big East. It’s a little late for that, since the Big East left them years ago, opting for football bowl money and damaging the heritage of the conference.
There’s nothing left – a bunch of strangers in a cuckoo conference, sending softball players and soccer players on long plane rides for conference matches, spending fortunes to justify incoming fortunes from the football television pool.
It’s all gone wrong. The presidents of the seven schools should take a deep breath and get out. The original partners slipped out the door years ago, leaving a bunch of strangers lounging around the premises with more strangers on the way. Have a little pride. Get out.
The survivors cannot leave out of sheer nostalgia. Eddie Pinckney and Patrick Ewing and Chris Mullin are not coming back to play in one of the most amazing Final Fours ever – 1985. In less than a decade, they created one of the great basketball conferences ever, but then television football loot made everybody crazy.
They need a new model. They could call it the Northeast Quadrant Catholic Basketball We-Know-Who-We-Are Conference. Stick to the business of offering a focused education on essentially urban campuses.
Big-time hoops are still a risky business for St. John’s, Seton Hall, Georgetown, Providence, Villanova, DePaul and Marquette, but at least they can get back to a more clear self-image and not get over their heads in football, with its gigantic rosters, bowl shenanigans, concussion legacies and recruiting frenzies.
Know thyself. The Ivy League has been stable forever. New York University gave up the big time, all for the better. City College educates New Yorkers rather than entertain gamblers and strangers. Nobody’s ever persuaded me what big-time sports have to do with education, anyway.
Big-time basketball is still something of a dance with, you should pardon the expression, the devil. But the football arrangement was blatantly Faustian.
If the survivors turn out the lights on the Big East as they go out the door, it doesn’t matter. The party’s over.
The ESPN story: http://espn.go.com/new-york/college-sports/story/_/id/8742607/seven-catholic-schools-leaning-leaving-big-east-sources-say
“They may hate the cultural context they now find themselves teaching in, but they love their work. The Achilles’ heel of schoolteachers, one all too easily exploited by politicians, is that they love their students.”
(One of the best reads in the NYT these days is Margaret Renkl, in Nashville. In her latest post, Renkl describes the dedicated core of “born teachers” – the majority, she submits.)
(From Madeleine Albright in one of her final interviews in February):
“Putin is small and pale,” I wrote, “so cold as to be almost reptilian.” He claimed to understand why the Berlin Wall had to fall but had not expected the whole Soviet Union to collapse. “Putin is embarrassed by what happened to his country and determined to restore its greatness.” – Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, recalling her first meeting with the relatively unknown Vladimir Putin in 2000. – The New York Times, Feb. 23, 2022.