Big East, Catholic 7 reach agreement

The Big East Conference is expected to announce Thursday that it has reached an agreement with the Catholic 7 basketball schools, allowing for their departure this summer, sources said.

The agreement between the Big East and the Catholic 7 -- DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John's and Villanova -- will allow those schools to keep the Big East name and the right to play their basketball tournament at Madison Square Garden, sources said.

The seven schools will depart on June 30 and will begin their new league on July 1, sources said. They are expected to add Butler and Xavier and likely Creighton to have at least a 10-team basketball league for the 2013-14 season, according to sources.

Dayton and St. Louis are the leading candidates to increase the league's membership to 12 teams for the 2014-15 season, sources said.

According to an exiting Big East source, the new league still has to pursue expansion, conduct a commissioner search, draft league bylaws, and complete fall championship planning. Thursday's announcement is the finality of the exit.

The remaining schools in the Big East will have 10 members in 2014: Connecticut, Cincinnati, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, South Florida, SMU, Temple, Tulane and UCF. Navy is scheduled to join in 2015, and Tulsa is the leading candidate to become the league's 12th member in either 2014 or '15, sources said.

The current Big East will have to come up with a new conference name by July 1. The league's offices will remain in Providence, R.I., for at least a couple of years, sources said, even though Providence College is leaving.

ESPN.com senior writer Andy Katz contributed to this report.

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