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Volume 22 No. 44
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Big East: Title will draw interest

While the Big East Conference name is 37 years old, the “new” Big East, which acquired that name from what is now the American Athletic Conference, is only 3 years old.

“Big East II” was founded in 2013 by non-football schools that broke off from the old Big East, so the popular notion is that Villanova’s basketball championship validates the concept of a Division I conference with basketball as its lead sport.

“We’ve achieved the holy grail for a basketball conference, so obviously that is satisfying,” Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman said. “Certainly our hope is that it reinforces the perception of our conference as a basketball force and as a key player on the NCAA landscape.

“With this kind of win comes success and respect that can translate into other areas, in terms of leadership opportunities, and the strength and clarity of our voice when we are talking about bigger-picture issues. It’s not lost on me that a number of representatives from our conference are on big NCAA committees.”

The conference’s largest deals, like those with Fox for its television package and Madison Square Garden to host its postseason hoops tournament, are long term, so they won’t be affected. Ackerman expects the most immediate impact will be interest in new sponsorships at the school and conference level, private donations and the likely ability to increase media ad rates.

With the national title, Villanova’s NCAA tournament take will be a little more than $1.3 million, paid out over six years. Those and other schools’ distributions are shared across the conference, some through a formula based on performance across sports in the conference as well as academic metrics.

A higher profile for the Big East could mean a bigger payout.

“When reconfiguration happened, we started with zero basketball units as part of the settlement, which was quite a come-down from what the old league had accumulated,” Ackerman said. “The most immediate thing for us now and over time will be growth of those units, assuming the current distribution formula is maintained.”

Ackerman noted capital projects across the 10-school conference, including a new arena project at DePaul; a new practice facility at Providence; Marquette and the Milwaukee Bucks combining on an athletic performance research facility; Georgetown’s John Thompson Athletic Center, opening this fall; and Xavier renovating its home Cintas Center.

Renovations to the 30-year-old Pavilion at Villanova have been under consideration. Industry insiders suggested that after the championship run, Villanova’s home court was ripe for taking either a corporate moniker or a name from a private donor.