PROVIDENCE, R.I., March 8 (UPI) -- Seven Catholic schools and the Big East Conference Friday announced an agreement in which the schools will leave the league effective July 1.
Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco said the schools will be allowed "an orderly formation of a new conference."
He described the process as "cordial and professional discussions."
The seven Catholic members of the league -- DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John's and Villanova -- will keep the Big East name and the league's post-season tournament will remain in New York.
The latest iteration of the Big East is expected to add members to a basketball-centric conference. Reports in recent weeks have linked Atlantic-10 members Butler and Xavier, and Creighton of the Missouri Valley as potential Big East members.
The former Big East -- America 12 has been mentioned as a new name -- still has Central Florida, Cincinnati, Connecticut, East Carolina, Houston Memphis, South Florida, Southern Methodist, Temple and Tulane in its membership.
The seven departing members did not field Football Bowl Subdivision football teams.
The Big East was formed in 1979 with seven members, including Georgetown, Providence, St. John's and Seton Hall, and basketball was the primary focus. The league had nine members by 1982 and in 2004 boasted 15. Since then Boston College, Miami (Fla.) and Virginia Tech left for the ACC and Temple has since joined the MAC.