PHILAELPHIA–The selection of new name for the old Big East will be put on hold until the end of the NCAA basketball tournament.
According to sources familiar with the process, Commissioner Mike Aresco is meeting with presidents of his yet-to-be named group of football and basketball schools, listening to suggestions and compiling information from market research groups on which names will generate the most positive feed back and still encompass the character of the league.
The Big East name was sold off to the new 10 team basketball driven league which will begin official operation on July 1.
Sources say that since the driving force for the old Big East is still football, announcing a name in April–at the height of the early flurry of spring football games at various league sites–will create more of a splash than if it were announced in March.
With that in mind, look for mid-April announcement of a new name, perhaps with some other news such as East Carolina being elevated to full member status.
Another issue which must be decided quickly is to find a site for next year’s conference basketball tournament. With Madison Square Garden and New York City lining up with the new Big East basketball conference, Aresco is looking at several options.
One thing that is certain is that it will be on a rotating basis–at least for the first few years, with several sites being considered. Don’t be stunned, or even surprised if Philadelphia–conference member Temple, strong college basketball tradition–emerges as the front runner and that the historic Palestra also receives strong consideration, although its lack of size for non-basketball playing issues could be a factor.
Over riding that deficiency, however, is the feeling by Aresco of wanting to create an intimate old fashioned “basketball” setting in one of the best “college basketball” cities in the country.
The Big East basketball league–with newly minted members Butler, Creighton and Xavier joining the Catholic 7–is still searching for a new commissioner and a home for their league office.
Former Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe has been hired to handle most of the transition duties for the new conference. Beebe will not be part of the search for the new commissioner or the search for a site for the league offices, with the New York City area still the front runner.
Silly season of hiring and firing basketball coaches is in full swing along with the NCAA tournament…Harvard’s win over New Mexico should put Crimson coach Tommy Amaker into a prime position at USC–if Amaker wants to leave Harvard. Sources say that USC has cooled somewhat on Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon,the presumed front runner for the job. Pittsburgh’s loss to Wichita on Thursday may have something to do with that….Hofstra’s firing of Mo Cassera on Friday should put former BC coach Al Skinner into a prime candidate’s role. Who has better credentials for that job than Skinner, who won in the ACC and Big East and grew up near the Hofstra campus…Duke assistant coach Chris Collins is regarded as the favorite for the job at Northwestern, which opened when Bill Carmody was fired…Harvard’s upset of New Mexico, a No. 14 vs. No. victory topped the opening few days of the tournament, but the standard and expected 12 over 5 upsets were also part of the scene with Oregon beating Oklahoma State, California beating UNLV and Mississippi beating Wisconsin all going almost as predicted, although Wisconsin’s loss was somewhat surprising….Good start on Friday for Big Five schools from Philly. LaSalle and Temple both won their opening games. Villanova was going for a Big 5 sweep in its game against North Carolina on Friday night….Atlantic 10 was as good as advertised. All five A10 schools (for now) Butler, Saint Louis, VCU, Temple and LaSalle won their first round gams. The Pac-12 was also off to quick start with Arizona, California, Oregon all winning their opening games.
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