Thompson: “When Syracuse said they were leaving the league, that was the thing that hit me in the stomach. None of the rest of it. ‘Et tu, Brute?’ That’s what I felt like. . . . When that happened, I just said, ‘Oh my God!’
“The thing that bothers me most is the lack of reaction by the fans. That bothers me more than anything. The fans should not have tolerated this. That’s the one time when I thought the Georgetown, the Villanova, the St. John’s, the Syracuse fans should have gotten together and said: ‘Hell no! This is not going to happen!’
Boeheim: “The Big East will be missed because it’s what we knew and what we grew up with and what made us. But it was time to move on. It’s just the way college athletics has evolved, really. The memories of Georgetown-Syracuse will last forever in people’s minds. People that have come to a Syracuse-Georgetown game will list that as one of the great events that they’ve ever been to.”
Thompson III: “Intercollegiate athletics is going through an evolution. . . . The whole intercollegiate athletics as we know it, conference to conference across the country, is going through a change. We can sit here and get nostalgic and say: ‘Oh, woe is me! Oh, the poor this-conference. Or you just brace yourself and prepare yourself for new and different clashes, rivalries, moments that are going to happen. That’s what we’re going through right now. We’ve got to move on. We move on.”
Tranghese: “I don’t know what’s going to happen. I guess there will be new rivalries. . . . But I hear distress in the voices of fans. I think they’re not happy with everything that’s going on. They look at it, they understand it’s all about money and, to a certain degree, greed. . . . No one is going to convince me that there’s a Syracuse fan out there that is happy that Georgetown-Syracuse is not going to happen in the same way. And the same with Georgetown.
“I don’t have the answers. I really don’t. But everyone may rue the day that this all happened. It may not end up being the best thing for college athletics.”
Liz Clarke, A.J. Chavar, Camille Powell, Barry Svrluga, Gene Wang and Jayne Orenstein conducted the interviews for this story.