UPDATED 10:19 a.m. ET: In a press release, John Marinatto confirmed that he has “resigned” his position as the conference’s commissioner.
“After a great deal of thought and prayer, I have decided to step down as Commissioner of the Big East conference and formally advised our Board of Directors,” said Marinatto in a statement. “I have been associated with this league for my entire adult life and have had the tremendous honor of serving as its Commissioner since 2009. Our recent expansion efforts have stabilized the Conference for the long term, and we are likewise well positioned for our very important upcoming television negotiations. As a result, I felt this was the right time to step aside and to let someone else lead us through the next chapter of our evolution.
“I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish and would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank both our membership and my staff for their unwavering encouragement, support and loyalty — especially during this past year. I am extremely confident about the future of this league that I love very much.”
Marinatto took over as the Big East’s commissioner july 1, 2009, replacing Mike Tranghese.
“I know I speak for the entire Conference when I express my sincere gratitude to John for his leadership and dedicated years of service,” said Dr. Judy Genshaft, USF president and Chair of the Big East conference. “John helped build the BIG EAST into what it is today, and played a critical role in our successful expansion efforts, and for all of that we thank him.”
Joseph A. Bailey III, former CEO of the Miami Dolphins, will replace Marinatto on an interim basis.
“The Big East has a terrific future,” said Bailey. “I’m excited to participate in shaping a new structure and strategic plans for the Conference, and I look forward to engaging on these matters with the leadership of all of the Conference’s members, old and new alike.”
In the release, the Big East also offered a rough outline as to how a successor for Marinatto will be selected:
The Conference also announced that it has retained The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to review its organizational design and structure. As the BIG EAST transitions to a national conference, its members will take this opportunity to position the Conference to maximize its media rights, branding and other strategies.
The search for the new Commissioner of the BIG EAST will be chaired Dr. Gregory H. Williams, the President of the University of Cincinnati and a member of the BIG EAST Executive Committee.
Well, this is certainly an unexpected development. Then again, given the number of big-name defections that have hit the Big East the past couple of years, not really.
According to Brett McMurphy of CBSSports.com, John Marinatto tendered his resignation as the conference’s commissioner Monday morning. July 1 would’ve been the third anniversary of Marinatto’s hiring as the third commissioner in the history of the conference.
No reason was given for Marinatto’s decision, or if the decision was a “forced resignation” ahead of landing a new television deal as some already suspect. A conference official told CFT via email that “a statement addressing Marinatto’s status will be released later today.”
Under Marinatto’s leadership, the Big East has lost West Virginia (to the Big 12 in 2012), Pittsburgh and Syracuse (to the ACC in 2013) during the last big round of conference expansion last year. While the Big East subsequently added Boise State, Houston, Memphis, San Diego State and SMU for next season as well as Temple this year, Marinatto has received a heavy amount of criticism for his perceived inability to stave off bigger leagues from plucking key members from the conference.
As noted by Mark Ennis of the Big East Coast Bias blog, this is a particularly bad time for the Big East to be searching for a commissioner, given the fact that a new playoff format is currently being debated and is expected to be finalized sometime in July.
Suffice to say, we’ll have more on this story as the situation develops.