Geno Auriemma: Good riddance

Updated: December 19, 2012, 6:07 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma isn't broken up about the breakup of the Big East. In fact, he said Tuesday he wished the seven Catholic schools that decided to leave could exit the conference immediately and blamed the conference's current flux on their past voting decisions.

Auriemma theorized Tuesday that the seven schools stayed in the conference as long as there was money to be made. And now, with the conference struggling to secure a media-rights deal with its recent upheaval, the seven schools decided to exit.

"Everyone wants to live in the place where the nine original schools of the Big East are all together and will play against each other forever. Then football became the driving vehicle. You are either at the table with the big boys or you are not," he told reporters, according to the Hartford Courant.

"The Catholic schools did a really good thing. They stayed at the table for as long as it took them to make as much money as they could. And once they saw all the money running out, they decided to go play somewhere else," he told reporters. "Had some of them managed to vote appropriately over the last 10 years, we wouldn't be in the situation we are now."

UConn is the only founding member of the conference still in the Big East and the only original member left in the conference that has a FBS football program. The seven non-FBS schools are DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall and Villanova.

Auriemma told the newspaper, "I hope they all leave tomorrow." He acknowledged that would be impossible because the Big East has to play out the 2012-13 schedule.

"But as soon as it's over, let them go and do what they need to do, just like Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia did. West Virginia did it the right way. They said they didn't want to be in the Big East anymore and said, 'See you later, I'm out of here,'" he said, according to the newspaper. "I hope they all take that approach."

The seven Big East schools that don't play major college football announced Saturday that they have decided to leave the conference and pursue a new basketball framework.

The presidents of the seven schools said it was a unanimous vote.

Big East spokesman John Paquette told ESPN.com the seven schools will leave on June 30, 2015, per conference bylaws. Those bylaws require departing members to give the conference 27 months' notice, but the league has negotiated early departures with several schools during the past year. Big East rules do allow schools to leave as a group without being obligated to pay exit fees.

The statement in which the seven Catholic schools announced their departure gave no details about their plans, such as whether they would attempt to keep the Big East name.

Information from ESPN.com's Andy Katz was used in this report.

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