When the Catholic 7 announced they were leaving the Big East Conference, the unanimous decision sent shockwaves throughout college athletics. Many observers see the decision as yet another signal that the once great conference is floundering amid the realities of conference realignment while others see it as an opportunity for the parochial schools to begin a new conversation about what survival in today’s collegiate athletics atmosphere can look like.
Still others worried about the rivalries which developed over the years. Yesterday’s announcement by two soon-to-be former Big East staples will make a lot of concerned onlookers very happy.
Syracuse Athletics announced their years-long rivalry with St. John’s University will not be ending with the separation of the schools from the Big East Conference. A home-and-home series has been agreed upon by both schools that will continue the rivalry after Syracuse moves to the ACC and St. John’s moves out of the Big East.
St. John’s will play host at Madison Square Garden in December 2013 and Syracuse will host the Johnnies at the Carrier Dome the following season. A date for that game has yet to be determined.
“There are traditional series that are very important to us that go beyond conference affiliations,” said Dr. Daryl Gross, Director of Athletics at Syracuse. “One of those is St John’s, which has an obvious place in Syracuse basketball history. As we continue to aggressively secure rivalries that are dear to us, we are pleased to announce the continuation of this great series between two outstanding universities.”
With a storied history between the two basketball programs, the extended rivalry series is an idea whose time has come. Both schools were original members of the Big East. However, the two schools first met in February 1912 and Syracuse holds a 49-37 lead in the series.
“The St. John’s-Syracuse rivalry is one of the classic matchups in college basketball. Generations of our fans have looked forward to this battle each year and we are thrilled that the two programs will continue to play the next two seasons,” said Chris Monasch, St. John’s Director of Athletics.
Syracuse’s Hall of fame coach Jim Boeheim is not ready to distinguish the rivalry, either.
“The rivalry with St. John’s has been one of the strongest for our program,” said Boeheim. “We had some great games when I was in school and the series continued to grow with Coach Carnesecca at St. John’s right up to today with Coach Lavin. Playing in Madison Square Garden is always a special event for Syracuse and for our fans in New York City. It will be great that our fans in Central New York will have the chance to see St. John’s in the Dome the following year.”
This announcement is huge for college basketball in this era of constant realignment discussions. We shall see if other traditional rivals can work together to extend their own respective rivalries.
If we can see more of the classic matchups after Realignmageddon, scores of fans around the nation will satisfied. I know this fan will be.