The new battle ground for Big East commissioner Mike Aresco is in his wheel house. The former CBS sports television executive is closing in on a basketball deal with ESPN and CBS for next season, while working on a long-term deal in football with multiple networks.
According to sources familiar with the discussions currently being held, Aresco and the Big East are close to finalizing a one-year deal in basketball using an 18-team model, which includes the Catholic 7 group of Big East schools who are expected to leave the conference following the 2013-2014 season and schools who are leaving for other conferences such as Notre Dame and Louisville (ACC) and Rutgers (Big Ten).
There is some speculation that Notre Dame will push for an exit from the league by next season, but the more likely scenario is the Irish remain in the Big East for one more season.
The package will include ESPN’s Big East Big Monday time slots, the Big East tournament and select games on CBS during the regular season.
In football, the Big East will have 10 teams for next season and 11 for 2014 and 12 for 2015. Aresco remains confident that the money for both sports will be “reasonable”.
Once the television deals are done–perhaps in the next few weeks–Aresco will then talk to the Catholic 7 about the details of their withdrawal. Contractually, the earliest any of the schools can leave without significant payments would be the 2015-16 season, but almost everyone concedes that a a target date of July 1, 2014 seems more reasonable for the official split of the basketball schools.
With an ever-changing landscape, here is what the Big East is expected to look at in 2013.
1. Louisville. 2. Rutgers. 3. Central Florida 4. South Florida. 5. Cincinnati. 6 UConn. 7. Temple. 8. Memphis. 9. Houston. 10. SMU.
East Carolina and Tulane will replace Louisville and Rutgers in 2014 and the Big East is focusing on getting Tulsa as its 11 team. Navy is expected to join the Big East in 2015.
1. Louisville 2. Rutgers. 3. Central Florida 4. South Florida. 5. Cincinnati. 6. UConn. 7. Temple. 8. Memphis. 9. Houston. 10. SMU. 11. St. John’s 12. Providence. 13. Marquette 14. Seton Hall. 15. Villanova. 16. Georgetown. 17. DePaul 18. Notre Dame.
When the Catholic 7, Notre Dame, Rutgers and Louisville depart, Tulane and East Carolina and another team (presumably Tulsa) will join the conference as full members.
The Catholic 7 are expected to focus on adding Xavier and Butler as their 8th and 9th teams, with Dayton, Saint Louis, Creighton and VCU as possible targets for expansion to a maximum total of 12 teams.
© 2013, Mark. All rights reserved.