By RALPH D. RUSSO, AP College Football Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ New Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco wants to
create a conference that gives its members no reason to leave.
Aresco held his first news conference Wednesday since being
hired by the Big East. He was joined at the New York Athletic Club
by University of Cincinnati President Greg Williams, the head of
the league’s search committee.
The Big East was gutted during the last round of conference
realignment, losing three longtime members (Syracuse, West Virginia
and Pittsburgh) and a member-to-be (TCU). It has reconstructed
itself as a national football conference that will span four time
zones starting next season.
“I think you approach realignment with the idea that you
strengthen your conference,” said Aresco, who is leaving his job
as an executive vice president with CBS Sports to take over the Big
East in early September. “You make it a place people want to be.
You make it a place where people who have left would rather have
been back there. You make sure that there is a consensus among the
Aresco said he believes the rebuilding league is stable.
“I would not have taken this job if I did not feel that this
was a cohesive conference that was committed to each other,”
Aresco said. “What I want to do is make sure I’m a good
communicator. I think it’s very, very important to make everyone
feel welcome. To understand everyone’s concerns. You have a
disparate group of schools but they share a common goal. They want
to make this work.”
The Big East also has an expansive basketball league that
includes eight members that don’t participate in the football
conference, including Notre Dame.
Balancing the desires of the basketball schools with the
football schools has always been tricky for the Big East and now
it’s bringing in schools such as Boise State and San Diego State
for football only with no regional ties to the current members.
“I think we have a football conference that’s going to be
extremely successful. We already have the most successful
basketball conference in the country,” Aresco said. “There
already is stability and it’s my job to guide them to an even
Aresco is a Connecticut native who grew up with the Big East
Conference, which started as a northeast basketball league,
expanded to football in the early 1990s and is now in the process
of its second major makeover.
The Big East is also about to enter into negotiations for a new
television contract, one that will likely decide whether the
conference does have future.
Football drives the value of a conference and right now Big East
football has been downgraded. The Big East has held a lucrative
automatic bid to the Bowl Championship Series, but that system is
being replaced by a playoff, starting in 2014.
The Big East will no longer draw postseason revenues equivalent
to the Big Ten, Southeastern Conference, Big 12, Pac-12 and
Atlantic Coast Conference, but it is still hoping to land a
television deal worth upward of a billion dollars.
“I’m not daunted,” Aresco said. “We have to tell the story.
We have to talk about the Big East’s strengths. They’re there and
they’re quite significant and substantial.
“I believe this conference has always had the ability to
reinvent itself and become stronger. It’s had to do that a few
times and it’s going to do it this time.”
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)