New Sheriff in Town: Mike Aresco of CBS Sports to become Big East commissioner

After a three-month long search, the Big East Conference has found its new commissioner. Sources say that the league will hire Mike Aresco, the Senior Vice President of Programming at CBS Sports, to fill the role. Mark Blaudschun first reported the hiring on Tuesday.

Aresco, who has been with CBS Sports since 1996 and was promoted to Senior Vice President in 2000, has assumed many of the managerial responsibilities of televised collegiate athletics for over a decade. His duties at CBS and the CBS College Sports Network included overseeing the network's overall growth, contract negotiations, marketing, licensing, and publishing.

The Big East seems to be positioning itself well to earn a strong media rights contract that will keep the league's teams happy, financially competitive, and the Big East's wealth of content nationally available.

More, below the fold.

The Big East has endured its most strenuous period of its 33-year history in the past year, and is in dire need of strong leadership and direction. After pushing former commissioner John Marinatto out of the position in May, interim boss Joe Bailey has worked diligently searching for the right man to fill the void.

With this fall's impending TV contract negotiation and conference realignment stirring over the league, a change had to be made - quickly. In the modern day of college sports, media contracts - and the ability to be seen on multiple platforms around the nation - means everything.

Yesterday, the league hired Chris Bevilacqua - a media negotiator who runs his own firm and was instrumental in the Pac-12's media rights deal in 2011, which includes the dedicated networks of Pac-12 TV. The moves that the Big East has made position the conference to make ALL Big East football and basketball games available in the future, based on Bevilcqua's and Aresco's work.

Bevilacqua's services along with newly-hired Mike Aresco's knowledge of the inner-workings of the field place the Big East in better position heading into September's meetings.

Aresco's most notable achievements during his tenure at CBS include his important role in the network's winning exclusive rights to the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship through 2013.

The expansions the NCAA has made in media, notably the tournament's live streaming over the internet via the stable and widely-used March Madness On Demand, can be traced to the planning and negotiations that Aresco made.

"Mike Aresco is a dynamic selection for our new commissioner. The skill set he brings as one of the leaders in the broadcast industry is tailor-made for the Big East in this time in our history," said St. John's AD Chris Monasch in a statement. "We look forward to working with Mike to make the Big East Conference stronger than ever."

A graduate of Tufts University undergradute and law schools, Mike Aresco has experience and respect throughout the industry of college athletics. His background with both ESPN as a long-term strategist and CBS brings his inside contacts and business sense to the Big East, where much work is to be done.

The league's TV deal with ESPN is set to run out after the 2012-13 basketball season. After other major BCS conferences have come to terms with networks, the pressure has been applied to the scrambling Big East to make sure it isn't left unsigned for too long (or, with a deal that is underwhelming).

The league has an exclusive negotiating window with ESPN for 60 days, starting on September 1st; other suitors can negotiate with the expanding, soon to be nationwide league after the 60 days.

ESPN's airing of Big East football and basketball has allowed the league to grow into arguably the strongest conference in the nation. A high percentage of its revenue is gained through the deal, which is absolutely necessary for the future of the conference.

An announcement is expected from the Big East either late Tuesday or early on Wednesday. Approval from the league's presidents was needed for the hiring to become official. Many media members are lavishing praise on the league's decision-makers... for once.

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