WASHINGTON -- During halftime of No. 15 Georgetown's 81-68 win over Western Carolina, Hoyas athletic director Lee Reed sat next to Hall of Fame coach John Thompson and typed away on a smartphone, quickly covering the screen when a reporter approached.
This was a day when the routine action on the court -- an easy home win over an overmatched nonconference opponent -- was overshadowed by the behind-the-scenes moves to break up one of college basketball's most storied leagues.
After the game, Reed broke his silence, confirming that the seven Big East schools without major football programs were breaking away to form their own "basketball-centric" group, reviving the concept that created the conference with Georgetown as a founding member in 1979.
"In terms of our model for intercollegiate athletics, our broad base model that's basketball-centric, that's something that's important to us," Reed said. "That has defined us for well over a generation. We're committed to doing that. We're committed to pursuing that and think this new structure provides the best opportunity right now moving forward to do that."
Known first and foremost as a basketball school -- Georgetown's football team plays before small crowds on its Hilltop campus and will remain in the Patriot League -- the Hoyas were anxious to separate themselves from a conference that had gone to geographic extremes to attract schools such as Boise State and San Diego State to stay relevant in big-time gridiron.
Saturday, therefore, was no time to be emotional about breaking long-established ties, although Reed did not rule out the possibility that the splinter schools would try to keep the Big East name.
"Georgetown was an outstanding program before the Big East. We've been an outstanding program during our time in the Big East. And we're going to be an outstanding program with whatever tomorrow holds," John Thompson III said. "The stability is up on the Hilltop, the stability is within our institution, and whoever wants to be with us can be with us."
Seven Catholic schools make up the breakaway group, but Thompson III said that's not the unifying factor.
"The common philosophical link is not religion," the coach said. "It's basketball."
Many details are still to be worked out in a process that will play out over months, if not years. In the meantime, Georgetown (9-1) has a team that's won sixth straight and has rediscovered its scoring punch.
Greg Whittington scored a career-high 25 points against Western Carolina, Jabril Trawick added a career-high 14, and Otto Porter had 12 for the Hoyas, who took control with a 13-3 run at the end of the first half against a school that fell to 0-38 against teams ranked in the AP poll.
Georgetown recently played a pair of home-court clunkers against Tennessee and Towson, winning both despite scoring a combined 83 points, but the Hoyas scored 89 against Longwood on Monday and shot 49 percent on Saturday.
Tom Tankelewicz made six 3-pointers and scored a career-high 24 points to lead the Catamounts (4-7). Coach Larry Hunter sat two regular contributors -- Trey Sumler and Brandon Boggs -- for the first half for missing a video session Friday night.
The Catamounts played Top 25 Illinois tough this month before falling 72-64, part of a difficult road nonconference schedule necessitated by finances.
"I've got to bring in a pretty good hunk of change every year," Hunter said, "to help our entire program."
Mississippi State freshman guard Malik Newman will withdraw from the NBA draft, but sources told ESPN he might explore other opportunities besides returning to Mississippi State.
Seton Hall sophomore Isaiah Whitehead will stay in the NBA draft and not return for his junior season.
Washington State's trio of Josh Hawkinson, Conor Clifford and Ike Iroegbu have withdrawn from the NBA draft and will play their senior season with the Cougars.