Should Marquette explore all-Catholic basketball super conference?

Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Should Marquette explore all-Catholic basketball super conference?

By Jay Sorgi. CREATED Nov 28, 2012

MILWAUKEE - In the wake of the latest salvo in the constantly shifting world of college athletics - Louisville leaving the Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference - it may be time for Marquette and a lot of other top basketball-only schools to look at consolidating their strength.

Specifically, one method could involve an all-Catholic super conference.

There are plenty of options for a possible layout that could deliver the advantages of huge television markets, nationwide exposure and enough basketball powers to possibly have half of the league make the NCAA men's basketball tournament every year.

How might it look?  Here's a possible template.

Seton Hall
St. John's

Saint Louis

Loyola Marymount
Santa Clara
St. Mary's

What are the possibly advantages?
- Identity tied to Catholic faith both unifies the schools in their missions and creates natural rivalries
- Nationwide exposure (big for getting a national TV deal with a major network)
- Six of nation's 8 largest media markets, bigger market exposure than any other conference currently in existence
  - New York (1), Los Angeles (2), Chicago (3), Philadelphia (4), San Francisco (6), Washington (8)
- Men's basketball competitiveness: 7 NCAA tournament teams in 2012

The major disadvantages?
- No football schools from which to draw bowl game revenue, but few conferences are willing to add non-football schools to their roster anyway.
- Nationwide travel - did that stop West Virginia and Maryland from joining conferences where they'd play road games more than halfway across the country?

Money talks.  Major market television money talks.  For the non-football Catholic schools in the U.S., it may be time to at least discuss the possibility of joining forces.

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