Mike Aresco, commissioner of the Big East Conference, did some damage control Saturday by meeting with reporters before the Louisville-North Carolina football game at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
Earlier this week, the Big East suffered another blow when Notre Dame announced it will bolt to the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Excerpts from what Aresco had to say.
On Notre Dame’s defection — “It’s never easy. It happens. You never want to see it happen. But, as I said, we certainly take the high road. We wish Notre Dame well and success. But it has minimal, minimal impact on us because, as you know, we remain top-to-bottom the strongest basketball conference in the country, and they didn’t play football. Many writers have obviously said this, but I have mentioned it — it wasn’t a football issue. They didn’t really play much in our league at all. In basketball, I can recite all the teams — Louisville may win the national cha … I don’t want to jinx Coach Pitino. But Louisville is a Final Four team. You look at Marquette and Cincinnati and Georgetown and Villanova and St. John’s with Steve Lavin, we’re adding Memphis and Temple. … Larry Brown at SMU. I’ve missed some teams, obviously. UConn, which will come back, obviously, with the tradition they have. This is an outstanding basketball conference …”
On Big East future — “First of all, we’re going to be fine. We’re embarking on a TV negotiation now. We’re in a negotiating period with ESPN. And one thing I want to say is we have a very bright future and we have vast potential. … We expect to maximize our exposure and our revenue. I’m not going to make any benchmark predictions or anything like that when it comes to the TV deal. But, we are the last guys out there for a long time and we’ve got tremendous product in both sports. We’ve got a football conference with tons of potential and also proven performance. We’ve got a very good BCS record. … In basketball, top to bottom, I think we’re the best conference. We have the crown jewel in Madison Square Garden. We have other things going for us there. And we also have a lot of great product. …”
On skeptics who intimate that the Big East may someday become extinct — “Utter nonsense. Look, you always have a perception issue to deal with. That’s why we’re out there vigorously talking about what our conference is. We’re not looking backward; we’re looking forward. But it’s utter nonsense. …”