New Big East commissioner Mike Aresco has been trumpeted as a savior for the conference. Aresco, however, doesn't think the conference needs saving.
"I think everyone understands that the Big East is different, but it has great potential to be bigger and better," said Aresco, who was introduced to the media Wednesday at the New York Athletic Club in Manhattan.
Aresco said that potential comes from the additions of football-only members Boise State and San Diego State in 2013 and Navy in 2015, as well as Memphis, Central Florida, Houston and SMU in all sports in 2013. Temple re-joins the conference for football this upcoming season and in all sports in 2013.
"I wouldn't have taken this job if I didn't think this group was committed to each other, committed to staying together and what I think you've got is the sense now that it's a national conference," Aresco said.
Aresco, 62, was an executive vice president at CBS, where he was in charge of the college sports division. Aresco worked at ESPN for 12 years prior to joining CBS. His background in television will be put to immediate use as the conference starts a 60-day exclusive negotiating window with ESPN on Sept. 1. The current deal with ESPN expires in June 2013. The new deal is crucial to the long-term viability of the conference because of the expected revenue involved.
Gregory Williams, president of the University of Cincinnati and chairman of the conference's commissioner search committee, said Aresco was an ideal candidate because of his ability to step right into the negotiations.
"I think of all of the people we could look at, there's less of a learning curve for him than anyone," Williams said. "This is a guy who has been involved in major negotiations. He set up the NCAA basketball tournament at CBS. He knows how to do this."
Aresco, who is from Middletown, Conn., said he will stress the quality of the Big East's programs in both football and basketball, which he believes is commonly overlooked in terms of revenue. He cited the ACC's recent agreement with ESPN that will pay each school $17.1 million per year through 2027 as an example of basketball's value.
"The ACC did not get the kind of media deal it got simply because of football," Aresco said. "The ACC has the kind of proud basketball tradition that the Big East has. You could make the argument that they're the two best basketball conferences in the country. The basketball rights are very valuable. I don't want to minimize that."
Still, Aresco insisted that he does not see the ACC deal as a benchmark, and that he is simply seeking to ensure that the conference's "value is recognized in the new TV deal."
As for erasing the notion that the Big East isn't what it used to be in terms of competitive excellence, Aresco said the results on the field and the court will prove the doubters wrong.
"We have to talk about the Big East's strengths," Aresco said. "They're there and they're quite significant and substantial."