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Updated: Big East goes to CBS for its new commissioner

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The Big East has found its new commissioner, signifying at the same time that the conference has a clear — or, at least much better — understanding of what’s truly important to its survival:

Television.

First reported by Mark Blaudschun, the Big East announced Tuesday afternoon that it has hired CBS Sports Vice President Mike Aresco as its  new commissioner. Aresco will begin assuming duties in early September.

“The search to identify the new Commissioner of The BIG EAST Conference was truly an international search,” said Greg Williams, University of Cincinnati President and Chair of the Commissioner Search Committee in a statement.  “We had many outstanding candidates, but we are fortunate to have Mike Aresco as our new Commissioner.  His breadth of experience and depth of knowledge in intercollegiate athletics will continue to move the BIG EAST forward on a successful path.  The BIG EAST has enjoyed a great history.  Mike Aresco will help assure the conference of a vibrant future.”

It’s the right hire at the right time. Aresco’s first order of business will be to oversee the conference’s new TV deal discussion, which begins on Sept. 1 with a 60-day exclusive negotiating window with ESPN.  Handling those negotiations will be Chris Bevilacqua of Bevilacqua Helfant Ventures. Bevilacqua led negotiations for the Pac-12 TV deal inked last year, as well as the Pac-12 Networks set to launch this week.

The next couple of months should mark the beginning of some stability for a conference in desperate need of some. The Big East lost four football members last year to the ACC (Pitt, Syracuse) and Big 12 (TCU, West Virginia), and struggled with new membership (re: Boise State) because of a lack of a longterm TV deal; the conference reportedly turned down a TV deal that would have paid all-sports members roughly $14 million annually.

The Big East’s former commissioner, John Marinatto, has since “retired.”

Whether the Big East can still get something in that ballpark remains to be seen, but at least the conference is hiring someone who understands the value of television as it relates to the overall health of the conference.

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9 Responses to “Updated: Big East goes to CBS for its new commissioner”
  1. dmvtransplant says: Aug 14, 2012 11:08 AM

    They will never get anything close to what the PAC-12 got. Hell for that matter they won’t even come close to the ACC.

    Mike Aresco is the new Captain of the titanic, Congratulations Sir.

  2. fatcamper says: Aug 14, 2012 11:11 AM

    As a USF fan I love this move. There have been some very optimistic reports that NBC was willing to to pay $14-million a year to the football schools which would be a huge win for the current Big East. Having a TV-guy help get close to this number will add a lot of stability to the conference.

  3. coolhorn says: Aug 14, 2012 12:33 PM

    Aresco is likely the right hire at the wrong time. The best the Big (L)east can hope for is to play, and get paid at the level of, say, C-USA long term. Aresco should be able to get some kind of TV deal for his conference, but it won’t even be at the level of the ACC. Still, that’s a better deal than what happened to the WAC, which was so drained of teams by the Mountain West that it goes away after this season.

  4. newbigeast says: Aug 14, 2012 1:46 PM

    The Big East will be the Flagship of NBC SportsNetwork….and while you can’t find which game is on ESPN one will know where to find the world’s best college basketball. In football it will become the Nation’s Conference and in time will compete for the top spots. Plus there own NewYears Day Bowl. Positive signs!

  5. cappa662 says: Aug 14, 2012 2:35 PM

    I’m not sure if there are any teams worth watching from the Big East. Why would anyone give them 14 million? I’m sorry for USF, UCF, Rutgers and etc are not exactly house hold names to the average college football fan.

  6. thefiesty1 says: Aug 14, 2012 5:02 PM

    The Mid-America conference could get a better TV deal than the little east. Did this guy actually apply for the job? Career ending job with a conference that probably won’t exist in a couple of years.

  7. whoisedgy says: Aug 14, 2012 5:10 PM

    This sort of reminds me of the NHL forsaking ESPN for more money from NBC Sports (Versus then). Then they fell off the map.

    I’m no fan of the WWL, but if you matter you’re on ESPN. The Big East may get a check, but they will continue to fade.

  8. florida727 says: Aug 14, 2012 5:49 PM

    I think “newbigeast” makes a good, and important, point. NBCSportsNetwork is obviously looking to compete with ESPN (see ‘The ‘Lights’, their version of ‘SportsCenter’)… a tall task and one heck of an uphill climb. They need a cornerstone ‘franchise’ to build around, at various levels.

    In professional sports, the NHL is probably the best they can legitimately hope for.

    In college sports, they need a (relatively) high-profile conference. Yeah, football drives the money machine that is college athletics, and that’s obviously NOT the Big East’s strength, but the second best is basketball and in the Big East basketball is king. Best of all for the Big East, the NBCSportsNetwork will gladly over-pay to create that foundation. They have to. They can’t seriously challenge the dominant position of ESPN by showing water polo at 3p ET on a Saturday afternoon in October.

    Don’t be surprised if they (NBCSportsNetwork) load up their programming with talk show (especially live call-in type shows to involve the viewer) or investigative reporting programming also. Lot of hours to fill when you’re trying to go 24/7.

    Bringing in a TV guy was definitely the right move. I’m not a Big East fan per se, but I do wish them well.

  9. fcmlefty1 says: Aug 15, 2012 10:25 AM

    The Big East TV deal sets the landscape going forward.

    If it rivals the ACC’s, Florida State will be looking to leave the ACC in no time flat, because there is no way they are going to accept that stigma attached to thier program. If Florida State looks to move, its sets the whole realignment carousel in motion again.

    If the Big East doesn’t surpass the ACC, things are probably set until towards the end of the 12 year contract for the new playoff system.

    But as pointed out above, NBC wants this bad. They are going to overpay – to the point where the deal will be bigger than the ACC’s to satisfy all the parties. NBC gets the programming, Big East gets to rub it in the ACC’s face. Esentially will end up being one big “shoe size contest”.

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