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Conference Realignment Update: UConn And Cincinnati Starting Their Own Conference?

Sorting it all out.

SCOOP: UConn and Cincinnati are reportedly in early discussions about the creation of a new nationwide conference consisting of teams that will be competitive in both basketball and football.

SIGNIFICANCE: A new nationwide conference would help protect UConn and Cincinnati, as they could potentially land a television deal that would be better than the one they would get if they stayed in the Big East. The schools could also leverage these discussions into a potential invitation from the ACC.

STORY: As the Big East Conference fades into irrelevancy and potential destruction, UConn and Cincinnati are looking for a way to save their illustrious athletic programs. According to a report from Sporting News, the two schools are in talks about the possible creation of a nationwide conference, consisting of teams from the Big East and the Mountain West Conference.

UConn, Cincinnati, South Florida, Memphis, Temple, Boise State, San Diego State, UNLV, New Mexico and either BYU or Central Florida are believed to be the founding members of this conference, should it come to fruition. UConn, Cincinnati and USF have all tried to get out of the Big East throughout the course of realignment, having all most recently pushed to move to the ACC. By 2014, the three schools will likely be the only current Big East schools left in the conference. With the news from earlier this week about the Catholic schools looking to depart, there was belief that the conference could dissolve altogether, but despite reports about potential dissolution from earlier this week, it was revealed on Thursday that such a move would require the votes of the seven Catholic schools and two of the football schools.

This new conference would feature several schools that are expected to join the Big East in coming years: Memphis, Temple, Boise State, San Diego State and Central Florida. UConn and Cincinnati are looking to play in a conference where they are not reduced to competing against Tulane and Southern Methodist on a regular basis.

Of course, television rights would be a major factor in a new conference. According to the report, NBC Sports Network would potentially be interested in acquiring the broadcasting rights to this conference. Staying in the Big East could possibly bring a reduced television deal that affects the staying parties.

There is a possibility that UConn and Cincinnati could try to leverage the creation of a new conference into an invitation to the ACC, which could decide that acquiring them before they are unobtainable is for the best - and the ACC would become the first 16-team mega-conference. However, UConn and Cincinnati would likely agree to a "grant of rights," in which they would give up their media revenue for the length of time if they were to defect from the conference.