Mike Aresco says Big East is 'united'
NEW YORK -- 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, head of the league's search committee.
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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 schools."
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 football-only members such as Boise State and San Diego State, which have 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 brighter future."
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 likely will decide whether the conference does have a future.
Football drives the value of a conference, and right now Big East football has been downgraded. The league 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 no longer will 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
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