SBD/March 15, 2013/Colleges

Brand Recognition: Aresco Doubts New FBS Conference Will Take "America 12" Moniker

Aresco said the conference's TV deal will allow it to build its brand
Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco on Thursday said it is “very unlikely” the new conference of FBS schools would be called "America 12," as has been rumored. Speaking to Yahoo Sports Radio’s Steve Czaban, Aresco said, “We’ll find a name and our guess is we would stay away from numbers because of the way numbers have (changed) over the years.” The search for a new name is happening in a “very systematic, deliberate way,” as the schools are seeking a “buy-in” from the public, presidents and ADs. However, it is “not going to be a long process.” The non-FBS schools officially are set to play under the Big East moniker next season, and Aresco noted the name has more “brand equity … as a basketball name than football.” He said, “It’s a double-edged sword with the name because we would not really be the old Big East, and we would always have comparisons to the old Big East. We want to have a fresh start” (“The Steve Czaban Show,” Yahoo Sports Radio, 3/14). Aresco added, “It’ll be a dynamic name, it’ll reflect who we are. But you’ll have two separate conferences next year. We will have some stability and we will all re-brand and move forward” (“Squawk Box,” CNBC, 3/14).

REALIGNMENT DONE FOR NOW? Aresco said it is “hard to say” whether there could be a period of stability after the spate of conference realignment in recent years. He said, “You could easily see more realignment coming down the road. We just don't know. … Some of it’s going to be, obviously, out of our control. Conferences have gotten larger. Will they now take time to digest, to figure out where they are, what they want to do going forward? You’ve heard talk about 16-team super-conferences. I don't know that that’s, frankly, on the horizon. None of us do. What we’re going to do is concentrate on our conference. We’re going to make sure it's the best conference it can be.” Aresco said money “has been a key factor in realignment.” Aresco: “No one’s going to argue that. None of us are naive. Obviously, some of the other conferences have their own networks, they have major TV deals. Our TV deal isn't going to be quite as big. But we also think it gives us the kind of exposure that’s going to be able to build our brand.” The league agreed to a “shorter-term deal because we think we can grow.” Aresco: “We think we can enhance the financials” (“Squawk Box,” CNBC, 3/14).

A WHOLE NEW WORLD: In N.Y., Jack Styczynski wrote the Big East after this week "will never be the same," but it will "be better." It is a "welcome sight to watch the schools that sold out to football depart a league that was founded on great hoops." The new Big East "dominated by Catholic colleges will lose some terrific rivalries," but the conference is an "alliance that will likely stick together for decades and have you forgetting about the defectors in no time." Plus, it will "once again be a right-sized league, emphasizing quality over quantity" (NYTIMES.com, 3/14). However, the Providence Journal's Bill Reynolds said, "It'll be a good league, but it won't be what it was. The week [Big East Founder Dave] Gavitt died, that was the symbolic end of the Big East right there" (SI, 3/18, issue).

PART OF THE BIGGER PICTURE: In DC, Sally Jenkins writes under the header, "Big East Fracturing Emblematic Of Cracked College Sports Priorities." This is the "scourge that is realignment: The constant shifting of alliances in quest of ever bigger paydays to offset budget shortfalls." Jenkins: "And what comes next? A trans-continental conference with the Big East fiscal refugees forming a frantic alliance with remnants of the Mountain West? U-Conn. commuting to UNLV and Colorado State?" Cincinnati men's basketball coach Mick Cronin said, "The whole thing is tragic. Nobody cares about student-athletes. All anybody cares about is money. ... If people cared about student-athletes, West Virginia wouldn't be in the Big 12 with 10 teams flying 800 miles to their closest home game. That's really conducive to studying. The whole thing is hypocrisy" (WASHINGTON POST, 3/15).
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