The Big East, without basketball, becomes less valuable to the networks.
What happens to Big East football now is unclear. The conference had no immediate public comment to the swirling speculation.
The league was already set to be downgraded when the new playoff format begins in 2014.
The Big East is currently one of six "automatic qualifier" conferences in the Bowl Championship Series. Starting in 2014, however, the league will join the Mountain West, Mid-American, Sun Belt and Conference USA in the so-called "Group of Five."
Only the top-ranked school among those five leagues, as determined by a selection committee, will receive an automatic bid to a major bowl. The bulk of the major berths will go to the five power conferences: Pac-12, Big 12, Big Ten, Southeastern and ACC.
If the Big East basketball schools bolt, Big East football has limited options.
It could attempt to stay together or, perhaps, merge with an existing conference and fight on as a member of the new "Group of Four."
The splinter would surely make San Diego State and Boise State reconsider their proposed moves to the Big East next season. The schools were leaving the Mountain West to secure a better television deal and to gain "BCS" status in the Big East.
The Big East is already losing its "AQ" status after next season, though, and the TV package may fall way short of expectations.
There have reportedly been discussions about San Diego State and Boise State possibly returning to the Mountain West.
Where everyone else ends up in this scattered mess is yet to be determined.