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Catholic 7 reportedly searching for big television deal

Jan 6, 2013, 9:31 AM EDT

Ed Cooley AP

Having recently declared their independence from the Big East but still with a mass of legal entanglements ahead, the Catholic 7 are reportedly moving ahead with plans to lay a financial foundation for their conference by exploring options in the television market.

According to Darren Rovell of ESPN.com, the seven basketball-only schools that formerly belonged to the Big East are working closely with Fox to strike a deal that could be worth as much as $500 million over 12 years. A meeting will reportedly take place Wednesday between the network and a representative of the Catholic 7.

Fox, along with CBS and NBC, is looking to rapidly expand in the sports television market and is launching its own network, Fox Sports 1, in August. That network would be in competition with the CBS Sports Network and NBC Sports Network, all three of which are working to chip away at market leader ESPN.

The proposed deal with Fox would give the Catholic 7 along with the members it eventually adds reportedly close to $5 million per year per school, which would be a significant boost from the $2.5 million annually that the group made as a non-football member of the Big East. New member schools reportedly would make half as much per year.

But roadblocks still remain. Exit fees and timing are still to be worked out, and the conference has not settled on whether it will eventually be comprised of 10 or 12 schools, nor has it formally invited members to fill those vacancies.

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Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_