Providence, RI (Sports Network) - Seven non-FBS schools have decided to withdraw from the Big East and pursue a new basketball framework.
The schools leaving the conference are DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John's and Villanova.
The presidents of those schools voted unanimously on the move and released a joint statement on Saturday.
"Earlier today we voted unanimously to pursue an orderly evolution to a foundation of basketball schools that honors the history and tradition on which the Big East was established," the statement read. "Under the current context of conference realignment, we believe pursuing a new basketball framework that builds on this tradition of excellence and competition is the best way forward.
"We are grateful to our Commissioner, Michael Aresco, for his exceptional leadership of the Big East Conference. We have been honored to be associated with the outstanding group of institutions that have made up the Big East. While we pursue this opportunity for our institutions, we believe the efforts of the past two years have established the foundation for an enduring national football conference.
"We look forward to building this new foundation with an emphasis on elite competition and a commitment to the development of our students engaged in intercollegiate athletics. That is where we will now spend our energy as we move forward."
This is the latest in a series of defections from the Big East, which formed in 1979. Seventeen schools have now departed since 2004.
"The basketball institutions have notified us that they plan to withdraw from the Big East Conference," Aresco and the Big East presidents said in a statement. "The membership recognizes their contributions over the long distinguished history of the Big East. The 13 members of the Conference are confident and united regarding our collective future. We have a strong Conference with respected national universities, and are working together to forge the future. We have a variety of options, and are looking forward with great partnership, collegiality and optimism."
Over the course of the past 14 months, the Big East has had West Virginia depart for the Big 12 and three other football members -- Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Louisville -- announce plans to leave for the Atlantic Coast Conference. Additionally, Rutgers accepted an invitation to join an expanded Big Ten last month, while Notre Dame -- a Big East member in all sports except football -- is also bolting to join the ACC under those same stipulations.
Only three current all-sports members that compete at the FBS level in football (Cincinnati, Connecticut and South Florida) are still presently committed to the Big East beyond the 2013-14 academic year, though Temple will become a full league member next season after joining the conference for football this past year.
The Big East still plans to have a 12-team football conference beginning in 2013, with the four above-mentioned schools mixed in with Conference USA defectors Central Florida, Houston, Memphis and SMU and Boise State and San Diego both joining from the Mountain West. Louisville and Rutgers are slated to remain in the league next season before heading to their new conferences the following year.