NEW YORK — Georgetown coach John Thompson III doesn’t know exactly how the new Catholic 7 league will shake out, but he’s in favor of expanding the conference out West to include perennial power Gonzaga.
“They’re obviously a great program, great tradition,” JT3 told SNY.tv exclusively following No. 19 Georgetown’s 67-51 beatdown of St. John’s at Madison Square Garden.
“[Gonzaga coach] Mark [Few's] done a great job out there. I’d be for that but I don’t know whether that’s realistic.”
Gonzaga is currently No. 9 in the AP poll.
JT3 said he also wouldn’t be opposed to having St. Mary’s join the new league, which is looking to have 3-5 teams join the Catholic 7 that are breaking away from the Big East — DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Villanova.
Still, that would mean the predominantly Northeastern schools would have to travel to the West Coast to play one or two teams. Conversely, those teams would have to travel cross-country to play the Catholic 7.
“The logistics of that, I don’t know whether that would make sense to them as a school,” JT3 said.
Current A-10 members Xavier and Butler have been the most prominently mentioned schools that could join the Catholic 7.
“I think that if anyone tells you they know what it’s going to look like, they’re not being honest because no one really knows,” JT3 said. “But I think we want to get as strong, as competitive of a group of institutions together where basketball is the focal point.”
Some speculate that it will be harder for schools in the new conference to recruit to a league that won’t include Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Louisville and Notre Dame, not to mention UConn, Cincinnati, Memphis and Temple.
“I don’t think that’s true,” JT3 said. “I think we got great institutions that are still there. Once the dust settles, once we get to wherever it’s going to be, it’s going to be a pretty good league. It’s going to be a league that just as importantly is going to get premium exposure, which is what the kids care about, so I’m not worried about that.”
Representatives of the Catholic 7 met in New York this past Wednesday with officials from Fox Sports. The sides are reportedly discussing a TV deal worth $500 million over 12 years that would make the new league a centerpiece of the network’s new Fox Sports 1 cable network.
It remains unclear where the new league will hold its postseason tournament, but JT3 said he’d like to see it played at the Garden — possibly replacing the old Big East tournament.
“I love playing the postseason tournament here, so me personally, absolutely,” he said.