Big East Preaches Unity to Remaining Members

Susan Herbst_on tuition hike

Former Big East commissioner John Marinatto had a tough job, but you could argue that it doesn't compare to what his successor, Mike Aresco, has gone through. The mass exodus continues unabated and Aresco has to put on a happy face when speaking publicly about the conference's future.

Meanwhile, UConn, the only remaining original Big East member left, is in limbo. There are no other conferences wooing them and it's unclear how long their current conference will remain as such. For now, the message is "let's stick together" in the hopes that UConn and the current members can fashion something out of this mess.

"I am very impressed by the enthusiasm of the current members of the Big East Conference," UConn president Susan Herbst said recently in a statement (via the Hartford Courant). "We have presidents and institutions that are committed to both outstanding athletics and academic performance.

"There is a great esprit de corps among my fellow leaders of these schools, who provide such strong and seasoned leadership at their own universities. We see intriguing opportunities to be unique, in our conference focus and our brand, as we move forward. I have no doubt that — despite the musical chairs of re-alignment — we have the leadership and institutional excellence to compete at the highest levels, with each other, and in inter-conference play."

And it's not just the old guard who have Aresco's back. The new members (those that haven't backed out, anyway)

"I know that the Big East has taken a public relations hit because of the recent defections," East Carolina athletic director Terry Holland said in an email to the Courant. "However, in my opinion, most of those defections were very likely to happen sooner or later and, although we hate to lose any individual institution, being able to deal with these issues up front could and should make us a stronger conference going forward. There will be a short term decline in the value of the conference's media rights package but, if we get the job done as individual institutions and as a conference, that should take care of itself in the long term."

It's some much-needed good news after weeks (and months) of bad news. Whether it's enough to keep the Big East relevant is another issue. But it's not like UConn -- or most of the conference's other members -- have much choice.

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