Marquette officially decided to leave the Big East Conference Saturday, according to an email sent Saturday afternoon to the entire student body by University President the Rev. Scott Pilarz and Director of Athletics Larry Williams.
“We are writing to inform you today that Marquette University, along with six other colleges and universities, has made a decision to end our association with the Big East Conference,” the pair wrote.
Joining Marquette in the split, about which rumors had been swirling for weeks, are the six other Catholic schools in the Big East that don’t play Division I FBS football. Georgetown, Villanova, St. John’s, Providence, Seton Hall and DePaul will leave with Marquette in the hopes of forming “a premier athletics conference centered on elite-level basketball,” according to the email
“This move will allow us to enhance the elite status of our men’s basketball program, which we were not willing to compromise amid the shifting landscape of intercollegiate athletics,” the email read. “It also allows us to develop new opportunities for student athletes in all 16 of our competitive athletic programs.”
Pilarz and Williams also provided insight into the university’s decision-making process.
“Over the past 15 months, the seven presidents and athletic directors of the universities previously named have been in a thoughtful dialogue to ensure we jointly solidify our vision and commitment to compete at the absolute highest levels of athletic excellence for many years to come,” they wrote.
According to the email, the conversations about a move “became more urgent and gained momentum” after Louisville and Rutgers announced their departures a few weeks ago.
The strategic locations of the six other schools joining the Golden Eagles contributed to the decision as well. In addition to Milwaukee, the Washington (Georgetown), New York (St. John’s) and Philadelphia (Villanova) markets “will provide an infrastructure needed to obtain the highest levels of success,” Pilarz and Williams wrote.
Last Sunday, representatives from the seven departing schools met with Big East commissioner Mike Aresco to discuss their long term future in the conference. On Thursday, the seven schools voted to leave the conference, according to several reports.
Director of athletics Larry Williams addressed the media following Marquette men’s basketball’s 71-51 victory over Savannah State Saturday, which marked win No. 1500 for the program.
“We couldn’t be more excited as administrators about the future of Marquette,” Williams said.