Big East scores big with hiring of Aresco

I’ve known Mike Aresco for more than 20 years. Always liked him, always respected him. I think the people in the Big East will like him even more.

The conference that seemed to keep doing the wrong things at the wrong times, finally got it right when it went to Aresco, the Executive Vice President of CBS Sports, as their next commissioner.

He did not come cheap. Big East officials knowing what they needed in leadership, reportedly will pay more than a million dollars a year to get Aresco, who surprisingly was well below that figure at CBS.

And yes, Aresco decision may have been about the money, but it was also dictated by a vision of the future that Aresco, who was a Phi Beta Kappa out of Tufts, has always had about college athletics.

That they did it in total secrecy–until literally the final minutes when finally was able to pin it down–which is as much of a surprise as making the right move in one of the important hires in the conference’s history.

Aresco knows people. He knows how to deal with people–University Presidents, conference officials and the media. He can be charming and tough at the same time.

For the Big East, which has been steadily declined in prestige and presence in the three years since Mike Tranghese–the gold standard for all conference commissioners–stepped down, it was a matter of survival.

Teams leaving, negotiations for a new television contract about to begin, and the perception that it was rudderless ship in many areas, plagued by in-fighting and squabbling which seemed down right silly at times, all created a sense of gloom and doom in the Big East headquarters in Providence.

Interim commissioner Joe Bailey did a nice job of quieting things down. Aresco, presuming he lets people like Senior Associate Commissioner Nick Carparelli and the rest of the Big East support staff do their jobs, will take the Big East to the next level–along with Chris Bevilacqua, who was hired to spear head the television negotiations.

There should be a sense of optimism about what will happen with the new television contract in football, whether it is with ESPN or NBC, which is looking for college football programming. Maybe each Big East school can get double the  $6 million annually from the present contract. Maybe they can get triple that amount.

Aresco knows that world as well as anyone. So does Bevilacqua, who brokered the billion dollar plus deal the Pac-12 signed last year.

If the Big East gets the money, maybe there is less of a reason for schools like Louisville and UConn and Rutgers to look elsewhere, as they are now doing. Maybe the Big East becomes aggressive again to re-establish its base turf in the East–would Maryland, strapped for cash, listen to a better offer?

Maybe schools such as Air Force and BYU will decided that life in the Big East is not all that bad and the football league becomes a truly coast-to-coast operation.

Maybe the Big East champion in football becomes at least a player in the new Football Final Four concept that will start in a couple of years.

It’s all good.

And a good man in Mike Aresco is now leading the charge.

© 2012, Mark. All rights reserved.

  2 comments for “Big East scores big with hiring of Aresco

  1. Jsh
    August 14, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Why exactly would MD leave? Yes they are cash strapped but would the BE really be able to offer enough money to compensate for the exit fee, the increased travel costs, the extra bowl revenue the ACC receives, the extra NCAA basketball tourney money the ACC will be receiving? That’s not even getting into the fact that Maryland would be leaving a conference that has a better academic reputation and the conference in which Maryland was a founding member.

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