Underscoring the central importance of television in today's college sports world, the Big East on Tuesday announced longtime CBS Sports executive Mike Aresco as its new commissioner as the conference readies for a potentially lucrative TV deal.
"(Aresco) has all the characteristics that we need in a commissioner," USF president Judy Genshaft said in a statement. "His career has been filled with achievement and success in intercollegiate sports. Mike Aresco knows the Big East and has a great vision for our future."
Aresco, 62, is CBS Sports' vice president for programming and has worked at the network since 1996. He worked at ESPN for 12 years before that. He was a key figure in negotiating CBS' recent 15-year deal for SEC football, as well as the network's current deal to broadcast NCAA basketball.
Though Aresco has never worked for as conference or school, his TV experience will factor heavily in his new job in the coming months, which are crucial to the Big East's longterm stability.
"I'm not daunted by it all. I embrace the challenge," Aresco told AP in a phone interview. "…I believe the reconstituted conference really has vast potential."
On Sept. 1, the conference opens a 60-day window of exclusive negotiations with ESPN on a new TV contract, though other suitors like NBC are expected to put in bids. A report in the New York Daily News suggested NBC could be willing to pay $10 million per year to each football member in the Big East, plus another $4 million a year to its basketball schools.
"I've known Mike for a long time and have a lot of respect for him. I think it's an absolute terrific hire for us," USF athletic director Doug Woolard said. "I think television has always had a significant impact on college athletics, probably no more so than in the last couple of years."
Aresco will start next month and can only hope his tenure is steadier than that of John Marinatto, who in the past year saw four schools — TCU, West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Syracuse — announce they are leaving for other BCS leagues.
Another eight schools will join the league, with Temple joining in football this fall and in all sports in 2013. Boise State and San Diego State join as football-only members in 2013, with Central Florida, Houston, Memphis and SMU joining as all-sports members next year and Navy joining for football in 2015.
Aresco will be formally introduced today at a news conference at the New York Athletic Club.
Around the nation
LSU MOVING FORWARD: LSU coach Les Miles declined to close the door completely on the possibility, however remote, of Tyrann Mathieu playing for the Tigers in 2013. "Tyrann can be a student at LSU," Miles said after practice, adding that he is "not in any way speculating" about whether Mathieu could play for the Tigers again. "He will not be on this football team this year — I guarantee that's a fact."
TEXAS TECH: Sophomore starting offensive lineman Brian Thomas and sophomore safety Urell Johnson left the team. Coach Tommy Tuberville said Johnson was transferring to Southern Mississippi to be closer to New Orleans, his hometown.
Information from Times wires was used in this report.