They kept it a secret until the final moments when the Big East Presidents sealed the deal with a conference call, but the Big East came up strong when it chose CBS Sports Vice President Mike Aresco as its new commissioner.
Aresco will be officially announced late Tuesday afternoon.
Although there were reports that former Duke basketball player and current basketball analyst Jay Bilas had jumped into the mix, those proved to be just that–rumors. Bilas had received early backing from Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino, who could also have offered support to his athletic director Tom Jurich. But that was deemed a risky selection since Louisville’s future as a Big East team remains in question. Bilas’ candidacy was regarded as a long shot.
Another possibility that emerged late Monday night was Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick. Swarbrick has been one of the more vocal voices about the Big East future in the past several months. And while ND remains independent in football it has been a solid member in the Big East in other sports, including basketball. But Swarbrick quickly took his name out of the mix.
At the Big East football media day festivities in Newport, R.I. earlier this month, Big East interim commissioner Joe Bailey said that the list of candidates to replace John Marinatto, who resigned under pressure last spring, had been cut to five finalists.
Speculation ranged internally from Big East Senior Associate Commissioner Nick Carparelli to former Patriot counsel Jack Mula to Pac-12 Deputy Commissioner Kevin Weiberg to Major League Baseball executive Vice President Tim Brosnan. All were considered, none were apparently chosen.
Other possibilities included former NCAA executive Greg Shaheen and Boston Celtic President Rich Gotham.
None, however, jumped to the head of the public pack
the mystery ended Tuesday morning with the selection of Aresco, who has been a guiding force in CBS’s college coverage and will be placed to guide the Big East through its new televison pact.
The announcement of a new commissioner would meld nicely with the announcement that the Big East had hired Chris Bevilacqua to handle its upcoming television negotiations, which begin on Sept. 1 with ESPN, beginning a 60-day period of exclusivity.
Bevilacqua received high marks for getting the Pac-12 a billion dollar deal that will pay each member school approximately 20 million per year.
Speculation on the new Big East deal, which currently pays its football schools slightly more than $6 million per school, ranged from anywhere to a slight bump in that package to the $`17. 1 million per year pact that the ACC schools recently signed.
With NBC expected to enter the bidding after the ESPN time frame expires, there was even some speculation that Bevilacqua could get a package that paid Pac-12 type money, which would change the image of the Big East, which will expand to 12 in the next few years, with the conference’s foot prints stretching from New York to San Diego and from Florida to Texas and Idaho.
© 2012, Mark. All rights reserved.