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Goodbye, SEC-Big East Challenge, we hardly knew ye.
According to multiple reports Monday, Big East commissioner Mike Aresco revealed the end of the in-season men's basketball series between the two leagues while speaking to reporters in Middletown, Conn. After six years, the series is coming to an end thanks to a lack of interest-drawing matchups and the splintering membership of the Big East.
The SEC later confirmed the conclusion of the series.
"This was the final year of our contract for a basketball invent involving the Big East Conference," SEC spokesman Craig Pinkerton said in an email to AL.com.
In an email to the News Sentinel, Pinkerton said there will be no formal announcement made by the conference regarding an end to the series.
Tennessee was 2-2 all-time in the SEC-Big East Challenge, which started in the 2007-08 season as the SEC/Big East Invitational and consisted of only four games. The Vols did not participate in the inaugural season.
In this season's event, the Vols lost at Georgetown 37-36 in a game marred by futile offenses.
Previously, UT lost at home to Pittsburgh last season after beating third-ranked Pitt two years ago on the road. The Vols only other appearance in the event was an 80-68 win over Marquette in 2009.
Tennessee didn't participate in 2010.
The Big East held a 25-15 lead in the event and went 9-3 this season.
The Big East's future is tenuous at best. Both Syracuse and Pittsburgh are shipping off to the Atlantic Coast Conference, while the conference's seven non-football Catholic schools — DePaul Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall and Villanova — have announced intentions to form their own league.
Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at Twitter.com/BFQuinn