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September 18, 2012

Big East boss singing a positive tune




New Big East Conference commissioner Mike Aresco visited Louisville for the Cardinals' game against North Carolina Saturday.

Despite the recent announcement that Notre Dame was leaving, the pending departure of Syracuse and Pitt and a constant hum of national criticism, Aresco said he's confident of a bright future for the league.

"We're going to be fine," he told local media prior to the game. "And we are embarking on our TV negotiation now that we're in a negotiating period with ESPN. One thing that I want to say is that we have a very bright future and vast potential."

Aresco said he embarked on this meet-and-greet tour in part to see each school's brass face-to-face, but also to spread what he believes to be the good word about the future of the league.

"I want to make a couple of points on that," he said. "One, we expect to maximize our exposure and our revenue. I'm not going to make any benchmark prediction or anything like that when it comes to the TV deal, but we are the last guys out there for a long time."

Aresco is referring to the Big East's spot as the last of the six major leagues to get a new TV deal. Each new deal announced by leagues over the last 16 months has been bigger and bigger, some with eye-popping numbers.

The SEC's current deal, which is expected to be amended now that Texas A&M and Missouri are in the fold, is for $825 million with CBS for first-tier football rights, and for $2.25 billion with ESPN for the next 15 years of football.

Late last year the Pac-12 signed with ESPN/Fox for $3 billion for 12 years through 2023-24. In May, the ACC signed a deal with ESPN worth $3.6 billion over the next 15 years.

Aresco believes the Big East should get the same type of deal.

"We have tremendous products in both sports," he said. "We have a football conference with tons of potential and proven performance. We have a very good BCS record. We've got good teams now in major markets, and we expand across four time zones. We have a national vision and, as I said, in basketball from top to bottom I think we are the best conference."

Aresco noted that the Big East would be the only league that could guarantee games that start at noon and end after midnight on the East Coast. He said advertisers are hungry for good live products on television, and the Big East has what they are looking for.

"We also have a lot of great product," he said. "We have a ratings-proven product in basketball, where we will have over 300 games. We have a ratings-proven product in football, and we will have almost 100 games.

"We'll have a 12-team conference next year, and we'll also have a championship game, and you all know what the value of a championship game is, and we'll have either two six-team divisions going forward or we may, in the next few years, add a 14th team. Navy as you know is coming into the conference in 2015, then we could potentially have a 14-team league. So we've got an awful lot of strength, and I want to make that evident."


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