BIG EAST fall sports scheduling changes announced

Soccer and volleyball will be divided into East and Midwest Divisions

The Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, President of Villanova University, has been elected Chair of the BIG EAST Conference Board of Directors, effective July 1, 2020. The Board of Directors is comprised of the Presidents of the BIG EAST’s member institutions.

The BIG EAST has also announced the formation of a conference-wide COVID-19 Task Force to provide guidance and develop recommendations to assist member schools in safely resuming and conducting athletics activities. In addition, the conference announced plans for a regionalized scheduling model for conference play in fall 2020. The changes were approved by the league’s Directors of Athletics.

Fr. Donohue replaces James M. Danko, President of Butler University, who has served as BIG EAST Board Chair since 2018. Fr. Donohue has served as BIG EAST Vice-Chair for the past two years and has been an Executive Committee member since 2016. Rev. Michael J. Graham, S.J., President of Xavier University, was selected to fill the Vice-Chair position, and Rev. Daniel Hendrickson, S.J., President of Creighton University, has been appointed to the Executive Committee as a new member.

Fr. Donohue has served as Villanova’s 32nd President since 2006. He played a leading role in the formation of the current BIG EAST configuration in 2013, which returned the league to its basketball-centric heritage. Under Donohue’s stewardship, Villanova won NCAA national titles in men’s basketball in 2016 and 2018 and was the recipient of the BIG EAST Presidents’ Award in 2015, 2016 and 2018. The award annually recognizes a member school that has excelled at the highest levels of academics, athletics and citizenship during the preceding academic year.

The Executive Committee appointments were made in conjunction with the annual spring meeting of the BIG EAST Board of Directors, which was conducted remotely. NCAA President Mark Emmert addressed the group on national issues, including strategies to address COVID-19 and developments surrounding name, image and likeness (NIL) in college athletics. The Presidents were also briefed on the progress of the BIG EAST COVID-19 Task Force, whose members include national health experts, athletics administrators, head coaches, physicians, trainers, event/facility personnel and student-athletes. The task force roster appears at the end of this release.

The changes to the 2020 fall sports regular-season schedules impact BIG EAST men’s soccer, women’s soccer, volleyball and field hockey. Soccer and volleyball will be separated into East and Midwest Divisions, while field hockey will move to North and South Divisions. Men’s soccer, women’s soccer and field hockey divisional opponents will face each other two times each in a double round-robin format, while volleyball divisional opponents will play each other four times.

Geographic divisions for men’s soccer, women’s soccer and volleyball are: Georgetown, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Villanova and returning member Connecticut in the East Division; and Butler, Creighton, DePaul, Marquette and Xavier in the Midwest Division. For field hockey, Connecticut, Providence and affiliate members Quinnipiac and Temple will comprise the North Division, while Georgetown, Villanova and affiliate members Liberty and Old Dominion will make up the South Division.

BIG EAST schedules will be developed using NCAA Championship date formulas to ensure completion of the conference schedules in time for the national postseason. BIG EAST fall championship dates, sites and formats will be announced at a later date.

BIG EAST COVID-19 Task Force members:

  • Dr. Rebecca Katz, professor and director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University Medical Center
  • Dr. James Lawler, associate professor in the Department of Internal Medicine and director of international programs and innovation for the Global Center for Health Security at the University of Nebraska
  • Dr. Renuga Vivekanandan, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Disease at Creighton School of Medicine
  • Athletics directors:
    • Mike Cragg, St. John’s University
    • Bob Driscoll, Providence College
  • Senior woman administrator: Susan Lipnickey, Xavier University
  • Physicians:
    • Dr. Doug Ramos, Creighton (chair)
    • Dr. Deena Casiero, University of Connecticut
    • Dr. Mike Duncan, Villanova University
  • Athletics Trainers:
    • Ralph Reiff, Butler University
    • Tony Testa, Seton Hall University
    • Brandon Yoder, Marquette University
  • Head Coaches:
    • Doug Bruno (Women’s Basketball), DePaul University
    • Sharon Clark (Volleyball), Butler University
    • Kevin Willard (Men’s Basketball), Seton Hall University
  • Student-athletes:
    • Sari Cureton (Women’s Basketball), Georgetown University
    • Christian Rega (Men’s Lacrosse), St. John’s University
  • Event/facility personnel:
    • Jason Poppe, Georgetown University
    • Kevin Sarver, Creighton University

About the BIG EAST
The BIG EAST Conference is an association of ten nationally prominent colleges and universities that foster healthy athletic competition, community service and the pursuit of excellence in academic environments. The athletic programs of BIG EAST institutions provide national-caliber participation opportunities for more than 3,700 student-athletes on more than 180 men’s and women’s teams in 22 sports.

Established in 1979 and headquartered in New York City, the BIG EAST’s members are located in seven of the country’s top 36 largest media markets and include Butler University, Creighton University, DePaul University, Georgetown University, Marquette University, Providence College, St. John’s University, Seton Hall University, Villanova University and Xavier University. The University of Connecticut will become a member on July 1, 2020. For more information, visit