The Big East Conference has formally announced that CBS Sports Executive Vice President of Programming Mike Aresco will be the conference's fourth commissioner.
As you can expect from a guy with that title, he's well versed in the topics of the television contracts for college sports. The two biggest items on his resume are CBS's long standing deal with the NCAA for the men's basketball tournament and CBS' contract with the SEC for their college football games. That's arguably the two most important television contracts in college sports, and Mike Aresco is the guy who got those deals done. Considering that the Big East enters into a 60 day negotiation period with ESPN over the conference's television rights, it would appear that Mike Aresco is a hell of a hire by the conference at just the right time.
Hit the jump and we'll get to some quotes.
Greg Williams, University of Cincinnati President and Chair of the Commissioner Search Committee:
The search to identify the new Commissioner of The Big East Conference was truly an international search. We had many outstanding candidates, but we are fortunate to have Mike Aresco as our new Commissioner. His breadth of experience and depth of knowledge in intercollegiate athletics will continue to move the Big East forward on a successful path. The Big East has enjoyed a great history. Mike Aresco will help assure the conference of a vibrant future.
Judy Genshaft, University of South Florida President and Chair of the BIG EAST CEO Executive Committee:
The search committee identified some truly outstanding candidates and we are most pleased that Mike Aresco will be the person who will take the Big East to future success. He has all of the characteristics that we need in a Commissioner. His career has been filled with achievement and success in intercollegiate sports. Mike Aresco knows the Big East and he has a great vision for our future.
I’ve known Mike a long time. I think he’s talented. He’s bright. He’s got incredible people skills. He’ll be a great person for people in the office to work with.
In a business where honesty at times is not in great supply, I would tell you that I negotiated a bunch of contracts with Mike, and they were difficult but always fair and direct. He’s very detail-oriented. He knows everybody in the college landscape. He’s got relationships with everybody—with (Big Ten commissioner) Jim Delany and (Southeastern Conference commissioner) Mike Slive, which is important.
He knows everybody in the television business. Mike is one of those guys that just has great people skills. Despite operating in a world where you have to negotiate and go back and forth across the table, Mike has always been able to maintain great relationships with people.
This line jumps off his resume: "He was the architect of ESPN's signature Thursday night college football series and was instrumental in developing ESPN's highly successful 'Bowl Week.'"
Buckle up your chinstraps. The Big East is tired of getting chop-blocked. Aresco has negotiated major deals at ESPN and CBS with a strong background in programming. Aresco knows what the networks are looking for and where Big East football and basketball must be placed to survive.
His connections in the bowl community are considerable. His resume shows experience with the NCAA Tournament, including the popular live-streaming of games over the Internet. He's not afraid to launch new programming ideas.
I would not be on the sidelines. I believe the reconstituted conference really has vast potential.
It would be hard to overstate [the importance of the next TV contract]. I consider it job one. All eyes are going to be on it. I'm not making any predictions, but I'm very confident our value is going to be recognized and maximized.
They have reconstituted the conference. It's bigger and stronger. It's got stability. Clearly, the schools want to stay to together. I wouldn't have taken the job if I didn't believe that.