Watchdog

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Big East stays on ESPN

Amir Garrett of St. John's avoids the block

Amir Garrett of St. John's avoids the block of Jordan Omogbehin of the University of South Florida in the first half. (Feb. 20, 2013) (Credit: Errol Anderson)

The Big East, whatever that means these days, will remain on ESPN after the network on Thursday exercised its right to match an offer from NBC, Sports Business Journal reported.

The deal is not finalized, but when that occurs, it is expected to bring the conference more than $20 million per year over six years, less than what it would have commanded before it began to hemorrhage key members in recent years.

ESPN’s decision was a blow to NBC, which needs attractive live programming other than the NHL on its NBC Sports Network.

Still to be determined is where the new conference being formed by the “Catholic 7’’ basketball schools will land when those schools break away from the Big East after next season.

ESPN president John Skipper told SI.com he believes Fox’s soon-to-be-announced cable sports outlet will secure that league’s games.

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