Big East Realignment: Conference Looks to Add 12th Team and Sign a TV ContractPosted by mlemaire on January 28th, 2013
Is everyone still interested in Big East realignment? Good, because believe it or not, everybody’s favorite conference to leave is in the headlines again as it looks to add a 12th team to the roster, keep their name despite significant re-branding efforts, and negotiate the all-important TV package with multiple networks.
Commissioner Mike Aresco dished on a number of topics following a breakfast at a chamber of commerce, and he believes that conference realignment may soon be coming to an end, which is a relief to everyone who enjoys college basketball but doesn’t enjoy watching school administrators work the back channels to wrangle more money for their programs. When Navy joins the Big East in 2015, that will give the league just 11 teams, so adding a 12th team makes plenty of sense if they can actually find a suitable program. Boise State and San Diego State have both backed out on the conference to return to the Mountain West, and it is possible that the Big East will have to compete with the Catholic Seven – which should be gone after next season assuming they work out a favorable deal – if they are looking to add some of the better programs from the Atlantic 10.
Aresco says that he intends to keep the Big East name and stressed the importance of the conference “remaining geographically cohesive,” which is kind of hilarious because he followed that by saying the conference would not expand past Texas. Not sure exactly what Aresco’s definition of cohesive it is, but from our end, there is nothing cohesive about having Connecticut travel to play Houston or Southern Methodist University, but then again, we aren’t conference presidents, so what do we know?
Of course the Big East could add Duke or Kentucky and it still probably won’t matter if Aresco and the conference can’t negotiate a television contract that will pour desperately-needed money into the conference coffers and provide a certain amount of stability. The good news for Big East fans and its members is that Aresco has a television background and knows what he is doing when it comes to these sorts of negotiations; the bad news is that while Aresco said a deal is getting close, he also mentioned that it could be with multiple networks. This isn’t necessarily bad news, but it does seem like a good indicator of the conference’s worth that no major network wants sole and exclusive rights to the broadcasts.
It is welcome news to hear that things are starting to settle down and that financial stability could be returning to the conference in short order, but if I was a Big East fan, I wouldn’t break out the champagne quite yet. For starters, I would want to wait and see what the official particulars are on this television contract, because that will be essential for the Big East to remain viable. And I would also be interested to see who the conference has in mind for its 12th team and what sort of programs are receptive to the conference’s overtures. Football remains the driving force, so if you are hoping for a terrific and storied basketball program it’s probably time to get real, but if the league can add a marketable 12th team, there is no reason they shouldn’t be able to stay alive in this awful rat race.
Also, just in case Connecticut fans were looking for another swift kick while they were down, Aresco closed the door on the program’s chances to revisit this year’s postseason ban saying “that’s over for this year.” Proceed with the wallowing, Connecticut fans.