New Big East Commish is CBS' Aresco

Mike Aresco, executive vice president for programming at CBS Sports since 2008, will be the next commissioner of the Big East Conference, sources confirmed Tuesday.

A source said Aresco will be formally introduced as commissioner at a press conference in New York Wednesday. The hiring was first reported by the website ajerseyguy.com.

Aresco, who has been at CBS since August 1996, has been responsible for all college programming for both CBS Sports and CBS College Sports Network, according to his biography on cbssports.com.

He will be the first Big East commissioner to come from outside the conference family. The late Dave Gavitt, founder of the Big East in 1979, was the league's original commissioner. He was followed by Big East employees Mike Tranghese and John Marinatto.

Marinatto resigned under pressure in May after conference presidents lost faith in his leadership. A failed television contract negotiation and the departure of West Virginia, Syracuse and Pittsburgh to other conferences created a year of chaos within the conference and threatened the league's status in college football.

Interim commissioner Joe Bailey told reporters at Big East football media day on July 31 that a field of more than 200 applicants had been trimmed to five candidates. The conference's goal was to name a commissioner by the end of August because the Big East will begin negotiations for a new television rights deal on Sept. 1.

At a time when the Big East was looking for innovative, out-of-the-box thinking, the most important factor for the conference might be landing a TV deal that is profitable enough for all member schools to keep the struggling conference alive. Aresco has experience in both college football and basketball, another key ingredient for a conference as diverse as the Big East.

Aresco played a major role in the CBS agreement with the NCAA that granted exclusive rights to the NCAA men's basketball tournament through 2013. He also was involved in the development of new media platforms including March Madness on Demand, the popular stream platform used by CBS during the men's tournament.

Among his other accomplishments, he also negotiated the 15-year agreement between CBS and the Southeastern Conference.

The late NCAA president Myles Brand appointed Aresco to the Basketball Partnership in 2004. That select panel included Duke and Olympic coach Mike Krzyzewski, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney and Gavitt. It was charged with exploring ways to improve and promote college basketball.

Aresco was born in Middletown, Conn., and lives in Greenwich, with his wife, Sharon, and their son, Brett. Another son, Matthew, is a former producer for the Versus cable network and has his own independent production company.

Aresco is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Tufts College and holds a degree from the Connecticut Law School. In 2007, he was honored as the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Role Model of the Year with an accompanying citation from the Connecticut General Assembly.

The Big East took a big step and announced Monday it has hired a sports media firm, led by one of the consultants who negotiated the Pac-12's $3 billion deal, to work on its upcoming media rights negotiations.

The conference has hired Bevilacqua Helfant Ventures as its lead negotiator. Co-founder Chris Bevilacqua helped the Pac-12 land its landmark 12-year television deal last season and launch its own network. He also negotiated the Rose Bowl's most recent television contract with ESPN, a deal worth $80 million annually for 12 years.

The Big East will begin a 60-day exclusive negotiating window with ESPN on Sept. 1. The conference is hoping to net its football members close to $10 million per year in revenue from a new deal.

Material from The Associated Press was included in this story.


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