Big East hires TV power broker to serve as commissioner

Posted: August 15, 2012

All of college football's current dynamics involve the pursuit of television money by conferences and their member schools.

An example of this was Tuesday's announced hiring of CBS executive vice president Mike Aresco as Big East commissioner.

The Big East gets a television power broker who is expected to maximize the league's TV value.

The 62-year-old, who replaces John Marinatto, becomes the first commissioner of a Football Bowl Subdivision conference with an absolute television background.

The league's bold and unprecedented move sends out a message that it intends to become a thriving and moneymaking conference for years to come.

"Mike Aresco brings the Big East a unique combination of skill and experience that bodes well for upcoming media rights negotiations," Temple athletic director Bill Bradshaw said.

Cincinnati president Greg Williams agreed.

"Mike Aresco will help assure the conference of a vibrant future," Williams, who was the chair of the search committee, said in a statement.

The Connecticut resident will be formally introduced in New York on Wednesday. He served as a vice president in charge of programing at CBS since 1996.

Aresco handled the network's contract negotiations with the NCAA for the rights to the NCAA men's basketball tournament. He also negotiated CBS's 15-year deal with the Southeastern Conference.

Before his successful stint with CBS, he oversaw the acquisition, scheduling and development of long-term strategies for ESPN and ESPN2's college sports programming.

Villanova athletic director Vince Nicastro believes Aresco's hiring will benefit more than the league's television negotiations and football image.

"Although his expertise and background is in television, that's not the only thing a commissioner does," he said.

And for Nicastro, that's reason for optimism.

"Mike has been attached to the Big East for the programming side for many, many years," he said, "and I think has a great understanding and respect for the basketball assets that this league has and how valuable they are from a media standpoint.

"So I think it's a great combination of the two."

The announced hiring comes one day after the Big East hired Bevilacqua Helfant Ventures to be the lead negotiator for the league's television negotiations. The Bevilacqua group recently negotiated the Pac-12's $3 billion television deal with ESPN and Fox.

Next month, the Big East will meet with ESPN, which has an exclusive 60-day window. The league is free to negotiate with other networks if no agreement is reached with ESPN.

Last year, the league reportedly turned down an ESPN deal worth $1.4 billion over nine years. The Big East negotiations are expected to start at $2 billion.

"I think it is a terrific hire," Nicastro said.


Contact Keith Pompey at 215-854-2939 or kpompey@phillynews.com.

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