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Is Gonzaga Joining the Big East?

Gonzaga Joining Big East
(Image via Gonzaga Athletics)

Is Gonzaga Joining the Big East?

Rumors have been flying on Twitter today about Gonzaga joining the Big East. Either there’s validity to the buzz, or a lot of people are very misinformed about what’s going on (or it’s just an elaborate hoax, but April Fool’s Day was five days ago). Big East expansion isn’t a new idea: Commissioner Val Ackerman said the league would be looking to add members in conjunction with the Fox TV deal’s expiration in 2025. Having Gonzaga would no doubt aid negotiations to renew a contract with the network.

Many have advocated (?) for Gonzaga to leave the WCC, because “no one will ever take them seriously until they leave that Mickey Mouse conference” or something like that. The WCC wasn’t quite as bad as many made it out to be, but with BYU leaving for the Big 12 and head coach Todd Golden leaving San Francisco for Florida, it certainly doesn’t seem to be getting stronger. If there was ever a time to leave the WCC, now is the time.

Does This Move Make Sense?

The Big East appears to make a good deal of sense if Gonzaga is actually interested. For one, the Big East is a basketball conference. With no football programs at the Division I FBS level (other than a horrendous UConn program that plays as an independent), basketball is the driving force for every athletic department in the Big East. Gonzaga doesn’t have a football program either, which was the most glaring issue with the idea that they should join the Pac-12. Furthermore, the Big East is primarily composed of small-to-midsized Catholic schools, of which Gonzaga is one. This also means Gonzaga wouldn’t have to compete with the budgets of giant state schools when recruiting.

Looking at the current composition and direction of the Big East, Gonzaga looks like a good fit.

What Are the Downsides?

But is the Big East a good fit for Gonzaga?

The only hang-up here is whether or not Gonzaga is willing to put up with the logistics nightmare that is a school in Spokane, Washington playing opponents on the complete other side of the country. This could be a serious dealbreaker, especially once you factor in all the sports that aren’t moneymakers. But money talks the other way too, and Gonzaga would stand to make a substantial amount from a new TV deal and NCAA Tournament payouts to the conference. That kind of thing can make up for some cross-country flights.

It sounds like we’ll know one way or another within the coming days. Mark Few, Jay Wright, Thad Matta, Greg McDermott, Sean Miller, Shaka Smart, Ed Cooley, and Shaheen Holloway in one conference? I can get behind that.

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