- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Big East's hiring of Mike Aresco as its next commissioner has been, in many ways, marked by the conference's decision to entrust a former television executive to lead it in upcoming negotiations for a long-term deal.
Aresco said Wednesday during a conference call that the goal is to land in the same financial ballpark as the other five major conferences, but he said it was too early to speculate about specific numbers.
"I'm not gonna speculate on that," Aresco said. "I do not want to set any benchmarks, but I do think that the Big East has outstanding products in both football, basketball, women's sports, Olympic sports. But I really don't want to speculate on what might happen. But I do think at the end of the day, the value of the Big East Conference by the media entities will be recognized and will ultimately be maximized but I really don't want to make any predictions."
Here are Aresco's initial thoughts on a number of other pressing conference issues:
Aresco is fully on board with the addition of Boise State and the Big East's Western expansion, saying the Broncos have become a household name. "It reminds me of Gonzaga when Gonzaga burst on the scene with the NCAA tournament and became an absolute darling of the country," Aresco said. "And I think Boise has really forged an identity around the country. And if you look back at the Big East as it was before and will be this year in football, having an addition like Boise is absolutely, it's extremely valuable. And they have a national reach. And in college football, as you know, schools in smaller markets often have national reach. Lincoln, Neb., a lot of the smaller towns in the SEC, it doesn't mean anything relative to their national reach. They have a terrific fan base around the country, and I think Boise's one of those schools."
Aresco said it was too early to talk about the conference's involvement with helping the Broncos find another home for their other sports, adding that the addition of San Diego State should not be overlooked, either.
Establishing a strong bowl tie-in is of the utmost priority for the Big East. "I'll be sitting down obviously with people at the conference and we'll determine what's been done," Aresco said. "It's been an absolute priority and we're optimistic, but that's really all I can say at this point."
Aresco said Notre Dame, a member in all Big East sports but football, is valuable to the conference. "Notre Dame is one of the great universities in America," Aresco said. "I'm proud to have them in the Big East and I'll do everything I can to make them feel as comfortable in the Big East as they can possibly be. Just delighted to have them."
Aresco is not sure if he will create two nine-team divisions for basketball, and he expects football divisions to be decided upon this fall, adding that geography and rivalries will be weighed. "There's no one model that works in all situations," Aresco said, "but I definitely will give it a hard look and try to determine obviously what's best for the conference in terms of divisional alignment."
Aresco anticipates being in Providence, R.I., on a full-time basis in the near future.
14hSharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Information
2dTom VanHaaren and Erik McKinney