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August 15, 2012

New BIG EAST commish speaks out

The vibe was predictably positive out of new BIG EAST commissioner Mike Aresco's opening teleconference this morning. The long-time television veteran reiterated his faith in the league that has taken some public hits in recent months, saying he would not have left a steady position at CBS Sports if he didn't believe in the conference.

"I think it's a great opportunity," Aresco said. "I did not want to be on the sidelines when this conference--having, again, reconstituted itself and made itself stronger--was forging a bright future. I did not want to be on the sidelines. Again, I have a deep affection for college sports and for the BIG EAST Conference. I've been involved in college sports virtually all of my career. I am a media executive but I have deep ties, I have long ties to the college community. Consequently, when this job became available, I had enormous interest in it. I think virtually everything in my career has prepared me for an opportunity like this…This is a new opportunity and a new personal challenge and I really embrace it."

Aresco, who begins his tenure Sept 1, will immediately be thrust into a television negotiation process that he deemed "extremely important to the future and financial stability of the conference."

"I think it's very important and I look forward to working with the networks and working with the outstanding staff at the BIG EAST," Aresco said. "Obviously, working in television, I've been involved in many, many negotiations. It is obviously an important factor in concluding a negotiation favorable to the BIG EAST. I'm looking forward to the negotiations coming up."

Recently,. many have guessed that the league will pursue a deal commensurate to the ACC's current contract with ESPN, which runs until 2027 and affords each institution approximately 17.1 million dollars per year. In today's media session, Aresco refused to comment on the ACC deal, but did say he is hopeful the new pact will be viewed as a boon for the league.

"I'm not going to speculate on that," Aresco said. "I do not want to set any benchmarks, but I do think the BIG EAST has outstanding product in 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 will, by the media entities, will be recognized and will be maximized but I really don't want to make any predictions."

With a multitude of Western programs slated to enter the league in 2013, the BIG EAST has the widest reach of any BCS conference, though it is unclear if or how much that will benefit the league.

Aresco does consider the large "footprint" of the BIG EAST to be an asset.

"I think that it's extremely valuable. I think the fact the conference now does span all the time zones only makes it stronger," Aresco said. "And remember, in most cases the BIG EAST has teams in major media markets. It's a series of big markets on a national scope. What happens when you have a national conference, you generate media interest in different places which then accumulates and means you get national recognition."

As he takes the reins of an entity that has been in a state of transition recently, Aresco, an innovator from his days in television, has a wide-array of improvements in mind. Though he declined to entertain specifics in today's conference call, he did hint at the basic outline of what he wants to accomplish.

"I said earlier that I wanted to make this a state-of-the-art conference," Aresco said. "I'm going to look at all the conference operations. I want this conference to be a leader, not only on the field, on the court but also in the classroom. Also, with respect to NCAA legislature, I want the BIG EAST to be at the cutting edge, I want the BIG EAST to be making recommendations, I want the BIG EAST to be involved."


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