Big East's Success In Transformation Due To Diligent ADs, Energetic Ackerman
The fact that the new Big East "will be up and running for the 2013-14 college season is largely due to two factors: The high degree of collegiality among the schools’ athletic directors, who each took responsibility for the scheduling and logistics of a sport, and the high energy" of Commissioner Val Ackerman, according to Liz Clarke of the WASHINGTON POST. Before Ackerman was hired, the conference's seven ADs worked with former Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe "to tackle the day-to-day duties normally handled by a league office." They held "weekly conference calls and mapped out the collective workflow, much like a construction manager does in planning the building of a house from site preparation to completion." Georgetown AD Lee Reed said, "We listed all of the things that we thought we needed to address, down to the nitty-gritty, to be up and running in the summer for the new league. Then we prioritized the list so our work was done at the right time." Clarke noted the conference presidents "fought to keep the Big East name and the right to continue staging the men’s conference tournament at Madison Square Garden." However, it will be "a challenge to draw the same, passionate crowds" without Syracuse or UConn. Ackerman said, "I think we can build around that event -- make it more than a series of basketball games and package it with other events leading in." Meanwhile, Ackerman has "hired two former Big East officials," including longtime Associate Commissioner/Communications John Paquette. She "hopes to complete the conference staff in the next 30 to 60 days." It will include a "business division that will focus on marketing, branding, communication and cultivating corporate sponsors." Among its "more pressing tasks" is launching the conference's website (WASHINGTON POST, 7/29).