Creighton's move to the new Big East is official Monday, but it will come with little fanfare at the university.
No formal ceremonies are planned on campus. The day likely will take on a business as usual feel within the athletic department.
“We've been making the changeover since March,” Creighton Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen said. “Monday is the day it becomes official, but in many ways, it's felt official since that day it was announced.”
Perhaps the most commotion Creighton's move will cause will come at the Omaha locations of Lawlor's Custom Sportswear, which specializes in Bluejay apparel. Monday is the first day that Creighton-Big East apparel can be sold.
“Normally, this is the slowest time of the year in my business,” owner Pat Lawlor said. “I don't know really know what to expect, but it does seem like people are interested.
“This is a big day for Creighton, and I'm sure it's a big day for its fans, too.”
Some of those fans consider this the biggest day ever. The university moves from the Missouri Valley Conference, its home since 1976, to the new, basketball-centric league that was formed after seven former members of the old Big East — St. John's, Georgetown, Villanova, Seton Hall, Providence, DePaul and Marquette — broke away from the conference.
It was announced in mid-March that Creighton and two former members of the Atlantic 10 — Xavier and Butler — would join the seven to make up the new Big East.
A lucrative television contract with Fox helped drive the formation of the new league. Fox plans to launch an all-sports network in mid-August in which the new Big East will be one of the featured partners.
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While CU will take a low-key approach to the official transition date, officials at Xavier and Butler plan to mark the day with a number of activities.
Butler, located in Indianapolis, will have key athletic department personnel available for a 10 a.m. press conference to answer questions about the school's move to the new Big East.
A rally is planned in downtown Indianapolis at 11:30 a.m., with the school's cheerleaders, mascots and athletic department on hand. Fans are invited to historic Hinkle Fieldhouse for a late afternoon ceremony, and Athletic Director Barry Collier will throw out the first pitch at the Class AAA Indianapolis Indians game at 7 p.m.
Cincinnati's mayor will declare Monday as “Xavier joins the Big East Day” in the city. The school also plans a downtown rally that will include activities for fans as well as appearances by the mascots and cheerleaders.
A pregame Xavier parade around the field at Great American Ball Park is planned before Monday night's game between the Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants. A number of Xavier athletic department officials will attend, and the first pitch will be thrown by the school's baseball coach.
Rasmussen said Creighton officials considered marking the day with some type of on-campus gathering but decided against it. He said the school will send out press releases and video packages with comments from Creighton officials.
“And one of the biggest pieces for us is the story that The World-Herald is doing,” Rasmussen said. “We feel that will create some interest.”
The World-Herald on Sunday published a comprehensive report, written by Henry Cordes, detailing the developments that led to the Bluejays being invited to join the new Big East.
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Rasmussen said the lack of formal ceremonies doesn't indicate any lack of excitement about Monday's transition.
“I know there was a lot of initial excitement when it was announced, and there's probably a little different type of excitement involved as we made the official move,” Rasmussen said. “I think the potential for the conference is tremendous.
“We still have a lot of details to work through, but I'm just as convinced today as I was in March that this is the right move. It's good to officially get going.”
Lawlor sensed plenty of initial excitement at his retail stores, located at 84th and J Street and at Westroads Mall, when it was announced in March that Creighton was moving to the new league.
“We had a lot of people come in and ask for apparel right after the announcement,” he said.
Unfortunately, he said, licensing agreements made it impossible to produce any type of apparel at the time. Even now, he said, it was tricky because the various licensing agreements were with the old conference that technically went out of business as of midnight Sunday.
“There was no (new) Big East yet, so there was some difficulty getting things licensed to sell,” he said. “It was definitely an odd situation.”
Lawlor worked with Creighton's licensing company to get approval for a number of T-shirt designs. He said his retail stores will have about 10 initial designs for sales.
He ordered extra stock in anticipation of possible brisk sales. At the same time, Lawlor said, he's uncertain what to expect given the time of year.
“The Big East launch makes it more tangible with people,” he said. “Typically, you don't have a lot of people talking about (purchasing) apparel this time of the year. They're definitely talking about this.”