Temple athletic director Bill Bradshaw on Thursday night denied reports that the Big East's seven Catholic basketball schools are leaving this summer and taking the Big East name with them.
A source had previously confirmed to CSNPhilly.com contributor Michael Bradley that the Catholic 7's new conference would start next season and indeed be called the Big East, as earlier reported by ESPN.com.
When asked to respond, Bradshaw said he had "no comment" because "no decisions have been made." He referred to Thursday's multiple reports as "rumors" and said he had "no idea where [they] came from."
Villanova, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, DePaul, Seton Hall and St. John's will be joined in the new league by Xavier and Butler in 2013-14 and Saint Louis and Dayton in 2014-15, according to the source.
According to ESPN.com's report, the league's formation is being expedited by FOX Sports Network, which is expected to announce the conference as part of its FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports 2 channels. The deal is expected to pay each school $3 million per year. It remains unknown how much it will cost to retain the Big East name. The Big East's presidents and athletic directors are expected to meet Friday morning to vote on their own media-rights offer from ESPN.
If the Catholic 7 were to leave prior to next season, it would leave the Big East with just 11 teams playing basketball in 2013-14. Three of those 11 -- Louisville, Notre Dame and Rutgers -- are already in the process of extricating themselves from the conference to join the ACC (Louisville, Notre Dame) and Big Ten (Rutgers).
CSNPhilly.com's Nick Menta contributed to this story.