SBD/August 16, 2012/Colleges

Aresco Takes Over Big East Conference With Eye Toward Maximizing New TV Deal

Aresco will earn a reported salary of over $1M to lead the Big East Conference
New Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco “made it clear that he wouldn't be stepping into the commissioner's chair if he wasn't sure the Big East was a viable league in the world [of] college athletics,” according to Brendan Prunty of the Newark STAR-LEDGER. Aresco said, “I think people may not have [noticed] -- that when the Big East reconstituted itself, adding superb institutions in football and basketball -- the conference now has a national reach. I think the conference will be stronger than ever before. I fully believe that.” Prunty notes the next step for Aresco is “getting to work on helping the Big East get the best television deal.” A source said that the league "could stand to double or triple its current value of $6 million per team -- given the right package.” The source added that if a "new network inks the Big East to a lucrative deal there is a chance that all the teams will have to sign over their individual broadcast rights as part of the contract. That would provide extra insurance to the network and Big East, should a school decide to defect to another league.” Aresco, who will “earn a reported salary of over” $1M, said that there are “‘no plans’ to move the Big East out of its longtime headquarters in Providence to New York City -- something which has been questioned given the close proximity to the television networks” (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 8/16).

BRAND BUILDING:
Aresco said, “I want the schools that left, I want them to regret leaving. My job is to make this a state of the art conference in every respect.” In N.Y., Lenn Robbins writes, “The Big East needs someone else now, because it is something else now. It needs someone who will get into the room with the college football heavyweights and fight for a fair shot as the new playoff model is implemented.” The Big East “needs someone who can remind the masses that even with the loss of Syracuse and Pittsburgh, the basketball conference, which is adding Memphis and Houston, still is pretty darn formidable.” Aresco: “I think everyone understands that the Big East is different. It’s not going to be the same Northeastern Big East. But I believe frankly that that gives them some significant strength. They’ve always been strong. They’ve always had a proud tradition. But now they have a reach” (N.Y. POST, 8/16). Also in N.Y., Roger Rubin notes Aresco has “arrived to stop the bleeding and unite what has become a coast-to-coast ensemble.” Aresco said, “I would not have taken this job if I did not feel that this was a cohesive conference that was committed to each other” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/16).

TALK THE TALK:
SPORTING NEWS’ Mike DeCourcy noted Aresco, when “talking about the areas he could address he managed to say all the right things,” starting with the “one that probably needed to be said the loudest.” Aresco said, “I want to make sure our story is being told, that our strengths are being maximized.” DeCourcy added, “With the exception of its inability to hold onto core members, that has been the Big East’s greatest failing in recent years” (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 8/15). Sports media consultant and former CBS and Turner Sports exec Kevin O’Malley said, “I’ve been doing this for 39 years, one way or another with the networks and in consulting, and Mike has also had a very long career. There's no substitute for that. You have to have been immersed in the history of this. It's a very, very positive thing for the conferences” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 8/16). In Philadelphia, Keith Pompey notes Aresco “might be the right person to maximize the league’s television value and elevate its fading national perception” (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 8/16). ESPN.com’s Andrea Adelson noted Aresco “deftly handled each question thrown his way, laying out his vision for a ‘state-of-the art’ Big East that transforms itself from punchline to national leader on the field and in the classroom.” What was “most encouraging … was the clear vision Aresco laid out to change the dimming national perception about the Big East.” Adelson: “The Big East needs a vocal advocate. More importantly, it needs a vocal advocate with connections. It seems to have one in Aresco” (ESPN.com, 8/15). In Birmingham, Jon Solomon writes, “Has there ever been a conference more in need of a cheerleader with TV negotiating skills than the Big East?” Aresco “arrives as a smart, outside-the-box hire for the Big East, but there’s a lot to overcome” (BIRMINGHAM NEWS, 8/16).
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