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Volume 24 No. 156
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Big East Interim Commish Bailey Denies Possibility Conference Will Split

Big East interim Commissioner Joe Bailey yesterday said that "he knows of no discussions among the conference schools that do not play BCS football about splitting from the league to form their own basketball conference," according to Bill Koch of the CINCINNATI ENQUIRER. Bailey said, "The reality of the situation is that there has been no indication from anybody I have talked to that there’s (anything) even close to this idea of any kind of split" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 5/10). In Boston, Mark Blaudschun wrote a split within the conference "appears to be more of a possibility than ever before." Included in the Big East's "core group of basketball-playing Catholic schools nervous" about the league's emphasis on football are Marquette, Providence, Georgetown, Seton Hall, Villanova, DePaul, and St. John’s, "with the possibility of Xavier, Dayton, and even Butler (although Butler has committed to the Atlantic 10) being targeted as part of a 10-team -- primarily Catholic -- basketball conference. (Notre Dame said it would not take part in a split)." Blaudschun added a split "could happen sooner rather than later," while there is also "a strong possibility that Big East football might take some further hits" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/8).

DUE DILIGENCE: In Cincinnati, Koch notes Bailey "will not have a role in the negotiations for a new Big East television [contract] this fall." Bailey is also "not interested in being a candidate for the commissioner’s job on a permanent basis because of his age" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 5/10). The AP's Pat Eaton-Robb noted Bailey "believes it will take about three to four months for the conference to find a replacement." Bailey "takes over at a critical time for the Big East, as talks continue over the future of a football playoff." The league is also "preparing to negotiate a new media-rights package in the fall." Bailey said that negotiations for a new television deal "will be handled by a consultant who will report directly to the league's executive committee." Bailey "did not speculate about how much the Big East package might be worth," but said that he "believes the conference is in a good position" (AP, 5/9).

HELLO, MY NAME IS...:'s Dan Wolken writes the Big East yesterday "trotted out ... some guy named Joe Bailey who will have no real influence over anything -- for one of those canned teleconferences, where he spent 30 minutes saying nothing of value while the rest of the country snickered." Wolken: "That's how it is for the Big East these days. ... The conference is a dysfunctional, illogical mess; it’s headed for an implosion; and there’s no real chance to get this geographically and culturally evolving group of schools on the same page." The conference "comes to this arrangement at a time when the Bowl Championship Series is formulating a playoff plan, with no guarantees the Big East will still be at the grown-ups table when all is said and done." Wolken adds in the "rush to read the Big East its last rites, something important has been forgotten. ... All of these schools have more to gain by finding a way to stay together than they ever would by breaking apart." Wolken notes the ACC yesterday signed a deal with ESPN worth $17M per school, but the Big East "certainly won't get that much, and it might get considerably less." However, Wolken writes, "For as much as realignment has changed the landscape of college sports, one thing hasn’t changed. The Big East was the No. 6 conference before, and it will be the No. 6 conference after. The only difference is the gap between No. 6 and No. 7 has grown wider than ever" (, 5/10).

STICKY SITUATION:'s Andy Katz wrote, "Whoever ends up landing this gig will have inherited quite a mess." Katz noted there "will be competition" for the Big East TV rights, but "no industry sources believe the Big East will command more dollars than the other five major conferences." Katz cited sources as saying that Univ. of Louisville AD Tom Jurich "told the Big East board of directors that the Cardinals want to be in the Big 12 or the ACC, opting for transparency by making members aware of his school's true intentions." Katz also noted the Univ. of Connecticut "states publicly that it wants to stay in the Big East," but cited sources as saying that "they want to be in the ACC with Notre Dame" (, 5/9).