(RNN) - The seven members of the Big East Conference that do not play FBS football will leave the league, according to multiple reports.
What this will mean for the future of the league and the college sports landscape is unclear, but it is certain to lead to a massive realignment that could mean the end of the Big East.
USA Today and the Associated Press reported that league commissioner Mike Aresco spoke with officials form the seven Catholic schools on Thursday in an attempt to preserve the league. The AP's unidentified source said the schools have not officially notified the league of their decision as of Thursday night.
The schools considering leaving are DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John's and Villanova. The Big East allows groups of schools to leave without paying an exit fee, the AP reported.
ESPN.com reported Wednesday that the basketball schools were "leaning" to leaving the league.
The New York Post said the basketball schools will try to connect with members of the 14-team Atlantic 10, including Butler, Davidson, St. Louis, Creighton and Xavier. How that will pan out is not known, and how many of the A-10's schools will be involved is not clear.
But SI.com's Pate Thamel noted that the seven schools reported to bolt the Big East are likely to form a "12-team basketball-based" league. The league may consist entirely of Catholic schools.
The Big East has been in a state of flux for some time - last month, the league saw Rutgers leave for the Big Ten and Louisville go to the ACC. Pittsburgh and Syracuse have announced plans to leave, as well.
Notre Dame, which only participates in basketball, is headed to the ACC as well. To fill the void left by those teams, the Big East planned to add Houston, SMU, Memphis, UCF, Boise State and San Diego State beginning in 2013; Tulane and East Carolina in 2014; and Navy in 2015.
Houston, SMU, Memphis, UCF and Tulane were expected to join as full Big East members, while Boise State, San Diego State, East Carolina and Navy were slated football-only members.
Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech left the conference for the ACC in 2003.
In football, the Big East is currently a member of the Bowl Championship Series, and its champion is an automatic qualifier for BCS Bowls, which have big payouts. But the BCS is changing to a different format next year that will end that system and deliver a financial blow to the conference.
Other current members of the Big East include Temple, Cincinnati, Connecticut and South Florida. What would happen to them and other future football members is uncertain.
The Big East has been pursuing a TV deal that has been hampered by the league's instability.
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