Hosted by Gus Johnson and livestream by Fox, the new Big East is out of the land of twitter rumors and sources and is a real, living, breathing planned conference.
The official announcement included the presidents of St. John's, Georgetown, Providence, Seton Hall, Villanova, DePaul, and Marquette joined by Creighton (Omaha, Nebraska), Butler (Indianapolis, Indiana) and Xavier (Cincinnati, Ohio) to form a ten-member Big East with a media rights agreement with Fox Sports.
The Big East receives a 12-year deal that adds stability to the conference; reportedly, the teams will bring in more than $4 million each per year, with a performance-based component, per the Washington Post. The conference's basketball schools received around $3 million per year under the previous deal, expiring at the end of this season, with ESPN.
Fox Sports will use the basketball programming to help fill their Fox Sports-1 channel - a full sports entertainment competitor to ESPN that launches this July.
A stable Big East
Just as important, the Big East retains the right to the Big East name - and has a long-term deal with Madison Square Garden to host the Big East Tournament. The Big East's current lease agreement continues until 2026. The Big East will lose some names, but will continue, at its core, to be the Big east - a basketball-focused conference.
"Even Omaha people are going to come to New York next year," said an excited Providence College President Father Brian Shanley, "and they're going to love it."
The Big East name, Shanley stated, is "bold, strong, and memorable, associated with some of the greatest moments in college basketball." The schools view this as a "reboot" of the Big East, a focus on core values.
About the stability these deals adds, he mentioned that "Our decision to separate was motivated by the feeling that the football/ basketball model was unstable. [We wanted to say to teams] for the next 12 years, here are the schools you're going to be playing with... you don't have to worry about who's out and who's in."
St. John's, Providence, Georgetown, and Seton Hall are founding members, while Villanova joined in the second year of the conference; DePaul and Marquette came aboard in 2006, when the Big East added a number of Conference USA schools.
As far as remaining connected with the former Big East teams, Georgetown president expressed "gratitude for the former Big East colleagues." He also added that the two factions were "able to achieve a mutual and beneficial separation" and the new Big East looks forward to maintaining an informal alliance to continue rivalries.
The deal extends to all sports, with Fox planning to show women's basketball, lacrosse, baseball, and more. Associate members will be sought out to flesh out the non-revenue sports (such as lacrosse), which lose viable members with the split of traditional powers such as Syracuse.
"Exposure is very important to us," Shanley said. "We want our schools name out there"
Visibility will be an issue early; will the new channel be carried nationally on all cable/ satellite outlets? (And will ESPN ignore any exciting games on Fox? Probably. They're an entertainment station, not a news station, as evidenced by their NHL and Atlantic-10 coverage).
Fox Sports President and COO Randy Freer noted that Fox Sports One will carry high-value content, including Big 12 football, UEFA Soccer, and the FIFA World Cup, which increases attractiveness for cable/ dish systems.
Moreover, Fox will integrate the content into Fox's online Fox Sports Go - and mentioned creating a digital platform for the league:
Also included in the agreement is a full array of "TV Everywhere" rights which adds to the robust content already available on FOXSports.com, one of the nation’s leading sports Internet sites and FOX Sports GO, a groundbreaking mobile sports experience for iPhone, iPad and Android devices launching this August in conjunction with FS1. FOX Sports Go offers more than 1,000 live games and events from across FOX Sports, FS1 and FOX Sports’ 22 regional sports networks, as well as scores, highlights, news, stats, and analysis. Live games and events are available to subscribers of participating cable, satellite, and telco providers at no additional cost. [emphasis, Rumble's.]
The Big East is expected to make their headquarters in New York City. The conference has retained Russell Reynolds Associates as the search firm to find a new commissioner. Reynolds was used to find the current Big East commissioner (the old Big East?) Mike Aresco, in a process ESPN's Brett McMurphy characterizes as "botched."
Dan Beebe, former Big 12 commissioner, will be brought in as a consultant to the league's search process. Beebe was widely blamed for not being able to stave off the instability in the Big 12 and allowing Texas to create their own network with ESPN, the Longhorn Network.