Catholic conference offers challenge, opportunity


As a chunk of the Big East transforms itself into a mostly or even all-Catholic basketball league, the conference faces a choice: play up or play down its faith-based roots?

St. John's, Georgetown, Marquette, DePaul, Seton Hall, Providence and Villanova announced Saturday they'll set out on their own. And they've already made clear they'll look to non-denominational institutions that otherwise fit their profile to expand.

But even if they do so, the conference's identity will likely lie with its core of Catholic-rooted schools. Embracing those roots is risky, but it could help institutions reinvigorate their religious identities at a time when some see them as under threat.

A mission-related stamp on the conference might include public service requirements and higher ethical standards. Avoiding Sunday games has been suggested, too.

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