After spending the past two years leading the Big East's fight for survival as a BCS conference, John Marinatto announced his resignation as commissioner Monday morning. He has been succeeded on an interim basis by Joseph Bailey III, a former top NFL executive figure who now heads an executive recruiting firm.
"After a great deal of thought and prayer, I have decided to step down as Commissioner of the Big East Conference and formally advised our Board of Directors," Marinatto said in a statement issued by the league. "I have been associated with this league for my entire adult life and have had the tremendous honor of serving as its Commissioner since 2009.
"Our recent expansion efforts have stabilized the Conference for the long term, and we are likewise well positioned for our very important upcoming television negotiations. As a result, I felt this was the right time to step aside and to let someone else lead us through the next chapter of our evolution."
Over the past year, the Big East lost Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the Atlantic Coast Conference as of the 2014-15 academic year, and West Virginia reached a settlement to move to the Big 12 later this year. Marinatto responded by leading an expansion process that turned the Big East into a conference with schools stretching from coast to coast covering all four time zones.
The league has a contractual window to open negotiations with ESPN in September and could eventually hit the open market as it searches for a way to maximize television revenue and compete with other BCS conferences. As a result of its own expansion process, Marinatto made the argument that the new Big East should have the largest television footprint of any conference, but it's uncertain how a league that has lost some of its natural rivalries will be viewed.
"I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish and would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank both our membership and my staff for their unwavering encouragement, support and loyalty -- especially during this past year," Marinatto said in the statement. "I am extremely confident about the future of this league that I love very much."
Bailey has held top management positions with the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys in the NFL and also served as chief operating officer of the now-defunct World League/NFL. He recently served as managing director of RSR Partners executive recruiting firm.
"I'm excited to participate in shaping a new structure and strategic plans for the conference, and I look forward to engaging on these matters with the leadership of all of the conference's members, old and new alike," Bailey said in the statement.
Dr. Gregory H. Williams, president of the University of Cincinnati, will chair the search committee for a new commissioner. The Big East also announced that it has retained The Boston Consulting Group to review its organization and structure, including media rights, branding and other strategies.
CBSSports.com first reported Marinatto's resignation.