Creighton University was named as one of the possible teams that could join a new league, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Thursday.
Marquette's new basketball-centric athletic conference will include 10 or 12 teams, have a reasonable television contract and possible rotating sites for its league tournament, according to university sources.
The Golden Eagles will join six other former members of the Big East: Georgetown, St. John's, Providence, DePaul, Seton Hall and Villanova. Butler and Xavier could leave the Atlantic 10 to join the new unnamed league.
Creighton, Virginia Commonwealth, Dayton or St. Louis could become the 10th team, or the conference could begin play with 12 teams if three schools vying for the 10th spot are all worthy candidates.
The decision to form the new league has already been made, according to MU sources. The only holdup is Georgetown President John J. DeGioia, who is struggling with the idea of his school leaving the Big East.
Once DeGioia signs on, an announcement on the formation of the new league, which would begin play next season, could come as early as Friday.
If the Big East Conference dissolves, the new league would consider adopting the Big East name.
Marquette's share from a TV contract should be no less than the $1.5 million it receives from the Big East, a source said.
With the addition of Butler, which has made two of the past three Final Fours, there is a possibility that the first league tournament could be played at Indianapolis' Bankers Life Fieldhouse (old Conseco Fieldhouse) or stay in New York at Madison Square Garden. The site would then most likely rotate, with the possibility of Milwaukee playing host if a new arena is built.
The fact that the league is being formed to feature men's basketball thrills Marquette officials. Since joining the Big East in 2005, Marquette believes it has compromised on its lead sport to accommodate the football wishes of the Big East. But as the Big East struggled to survive by clinging to football, it alienated its seven remaining basketball-first members.
Athletic directors at Marquette and the six seceding schools were prepared to break away at least six months ago as the Big East continued to hemorrhage prestigious members. Recent defectors include Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Rutgers, Louisville and West Virginia.
When Rutgers joined Maryland in the Big Ten Conference and Louisville left for the Atlantic Coast Conference within the past month, the push to leave the Big East gained momentum for Marquette.
Then, when the Big East announced that basketball lightweight Tulane would join the Big East, presidents at the seven schools, with the exception of DeGioia, joined their athletic directors in the movement.
Marquette's president, Father Scott Pilarz, joined MU Vice President and Director of Athletics Larry Williams in New York this week to inform the Big East of its plans to withdraw.
Neither Pilarz nor Williams were available for comment Thursday.
Marquette's other 11 sports - women's basketball, track and field, cross country, men's golf, men's and women's lacrosse, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's tennis and women's volleyball - will compete in the new league.
The Golden Eagles' nationally prominent soccer and volleyball teams will immediately become among the best in the new conference.
But men's basketball, the primary revenue producer for the athletic department, will seriously benefit from affiliation with the new league.
Although the conference cannot immediately compete with the heyday of the Big East, when Georgetown, Syracuse and Connecticut were among the best teams in college basketball, the Golden Eagles will be in a much better place than they were in a Big East that was crumbling while trying to maintain a football foothold.
While the new league will not have a traditional brand name like North Carolina and Duke in the ACC or Indiana in the Big Ten, it will feature programs such as Butler, Xavier and the Golden Eagles, which have made the Sweet 16 in each of the past two seasons.
Georgetown also will give clout to a league that will have an automatic NCAA berth and should provide a number of at-large teams to the tournament.
The new league will be the fifth since 1988 for Marquette, which had been an independent before joining the Midwestern Collegiate Conference. While the Golden Eagles are accustomed to conference jumping and excited about the move, traditional Big East schools such as Georgetown are having trouble leaving.
Terms of a buyout have not been determined for the departing schools, but if all the Catholic schools leave the Big East, the conference may not be able to recoup a withdrawal fee.
What happens to the Big East is anyone's guess. It could fold or try to hang on with Connecticut, Cincinnati, Temple and Memphis, as well as Southern Methodist, Houston, Tulane and Central Florida. East Carolina, Navy, San Diego State and Boise State are football-only members.
Meanwhile, there will be many details to sort out before the new league can begin play. As one source noted, no one among the seven breakaway schools has experience in beginning a new league. But that challenge paled in comparison to Marquette's wish to no longer be a part of what the Big East had become.