Last night, Marquette athletic director Larry Williams joined Steve "The Homer" True during 540 ESPN's Marquette Basketball Hour. With news leaking yesterday that the Big East Catholic 7 had met with Commissioner Mike Aresco in New York to air their concerns about the direction of the conference, the topic du jour, of course, was the ever-changing conference landscape.
For the most part, Larry Williams' always-candid answers -- dutifully transcribed by ESPNMilwaukee.com's Matt Trebby here -- confirmed media reports of the discussions between the Catholic 7 and Aresco: the concern about diluting the Big East's basketball product by adding middling football programs; the expiration of the conference's media deal at the end of the academic year; and the possibility of scheduling annual mirror games between "old" Big East schools, with fewer games games played against "new" Big East schools.
The takeaway from the discussion, of course, is that for Marquette (and presumably for the other basketball-only members of the Big East) "everything is on the table....We're evaluating everything." The part of the conversation that jumped out at me, though (besides the amusing shots at the Atlantic 10), concerned Larry Williams' feelings on the decision to add Tulane to the Big East conference in all sports. Said the AD:
I was not pleased that we issued an invitation to Tulane without any diligence to what effect that would have on our basketball product, the draw on our RPI and other such things. I was disappointed that I wasn't able to participate as a member of the conference in the deliberation that went into adding that.
That's a whole big bag of confusion in that statement, for a couple of reasons:
(1) According to the Big East's bylaws (h/t to VUHoops.com), the decision to add new members to the conference is committed to the conference's Board of Directors, which is composed of "the CEOs" (read: presidents, chancellors, what-have-yous) of the member institutions. Pursuant to Article 4.02, a three-fourths vote of the Board is needed to add a new member in all sports.
(2) The vote in favor of adding Tulane as an all-sport member of the Big East was, according to the release from the conference itself, unanimous.
Hence, the confusion: who, exactly, is Larry Williams frustrated with? Was this a vote that was forced on the presidents of the Big East schools by conference leadership? Or did Larry Williams (and other athletic directors) try to raise these concerns about Tulane basketball with the president(s), only to be disregarded or ignored? What does it mean that he "wasn't able to participate as a member of the conference" in the discussion about adding Tulane? Is that him personally, or Marquette as an institution?
Any way you read it, something doesn't sound quite right. And where this all leaves Marquette going forward is, unfortunately, as unclear as ever.