The Big East has two major issues to settle before five new teams enter the conference in 2013-2014. As the conference searches for a new commissioner, the league is also focused on cementing a new TV package.
Progress has been made on the former as interim commissioner Joseph Bailey announced at last week's Big East Media Kickoff that the search has been narrowed to five candidates. Regarding TV, negotiations could intensify in the coming weeks. The hiring of a dynamic commissioner may help expedite the process. A report from the New York Daily News suggests that if NBC Sports Group enters the bidding process, the network could be prepared to offer the conference $10 million per team annually in football. NBC could also offer an additional $4 million per team annually for the league's 16 basketball programs, the Daily News reported.
A spokesman from NBC Sports Group did not immediately return a message left Tuesday afternoon.
The Big East has an exclusive 60-day negotiating period with ESPN beginning Sept. 1. The league cannot negotiate with other networks until the window closes Nov. 1. A six-year broadcast agreement between the Big East and ESPN in men's basketball expires after the 2012-2013 season, a league spokesman said Tuesday. A separate agreement between the conference and the network in football expires after the 2013 regular season.
The conference nearly reached an extension with ESPN in 2011 that would have run through the 2022-2023 season. That agreement would have paid the league between $110 million to $130 million annually. The deal fell apart after the Pac-12 expanded to 12 teams and signed a 12-year, $3 billion contract with ESPN and Fox in May of 2011.
"We were very close," former Big East Commissioner John Marinatto told the Hartford Courant at the 2011 Big East Media Kickoff. "But when the day came when we had to make the decision, the Pac-12 decision was made the day before. The ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 changed the world. The Pac-12 dramatically changed it. We were all shocked. They reset the marketplace. There was splintering before that, but on that day we were unanimous walking away."
If a network such as NBC Sports Group offers the Big East a deal similar to the one reported by the Daily News, it will be comparable with one the Atlantic Coast Conference reached with ESPN in May. The 15-year, $3.6 billion deal will pay the ACC $240 million annually. With the addition of current Big East members Syracuse and Pittsburgh, the ACC will have 12-members beginning in 2013-2014. The deal with ESPN will pay each ACC program about $17 million a year.
The deal between the ACC and ESPN also gives the network the right to find title sponsors for ACC championship events, the Raleigh News-Observer reported. In 2010, American Eagle Outfitters and the Big East reached a three-year agreement to serve as the presenting sponsor for the Big East men's and women's basketball championships. With next season's expansion, an inaugural Big East Football Championship game has been scheduled for the 2013 season.
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