HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – The Big East’s interim commissioner said Wednesday the conference is working to dispel any perception that it is unraveling following the ouster of John Marinatto.
Joseph Bailey III, a former chief executive with the Miami Dolphins, held his first conference call with reporters on Wednesday, two days after Marinatto resigned amid pressure from Big East presidents. Bailey said he does not want the job permanently, and believes it will take about three to four months for the conference to find a replacement.
In the meantime, he said he’s seen no split between football and basketball schools, and said the conference is focused on making sure the public doesn’t think it is falling apart.
“And in fact, it isn’t,” he said. “I can tell you just from being in the meetings that I’ve been in, it’s not at all. It’s a very cohesive, very focused group.”
Bailey takes over at a critical time for the Big East, as talks continue over the future of a football playoff. The league is also preparing to negotiate a new media-rights package in the fall. Bailey said he does not plan to be involved in the negotiations for a new television deal, which he said will be handled by a consultant who will report directly to the league’s executive committee.
“I’ll probably be informed of how they go,” he said.
On Wednesday, the ACC and ESPN announced a new television deal. A person familiar with the agreement told The Associated Press that it’s worth $3.6 billion over the 15 years.
Bailey didn’t speculate about how much the Big East package might be worth, but said he believes the conference is in a good position.
“I can’t tell you what the expectation market is, because that’s exactly what that is: expectations,” he said. “You can drive yourself nuts if you try and manage anything by what the expectation market is. I think sort of the reality of it is that media rights are increasing, and where it ends up, really I don’t think anybody really knows for sure.”
He said he also believes the conference will continue to have an equal say with other leagues in determining how the BCS football playoffs and revenue will be handled, and doesn’t believe Marinatto’s departure will affect those negotiations.
“I mean, the Big East vote is like any other member’s vote; it’s the same,” he said. “And you’ve got to be at the table where the Big East is at the table.”
Marinatto left after less than three years on the job and a wave of departures by high-profile schools. Pittsburgh and Syracuse made plans to leave for the ACC in September, and West Virginia bolted for the Big 12 the following month. The Big East regrouped by adding Central Florida, Houston, Memphis, SMU and Temple for all sports and Boise State, San Diego State and Navy for football only.
There has been speculation that plans by the BCS to eliminate automatic qualifier status for conferences could lead Boise State and San Diego State to reconsider joining the league. But Bailey said he believes both schools plan to honor their commitments.
“There’s an expectation market, and then there’s the reality market,” he said. “And the reality of it is that those schools have indicated, to my knowledge, to the executive committee and to the other members, that they have a big belief that the Big East is a really good partner for them.”
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