Former Patriots general counsel in Big East commissioner mix

Former New England Patriots general counsel Jack Mula has surfaced as a candidate for the Big East commissioner vacancy, CBSSports.com has learned.

The 55-year old Mula met with the conference's search firm Russell Reynolds last week in New York. The process is expected to speed up as the conference intends to have a replacement for John Marinatto by the end of the month according to reports.

Mula's name is new, publicly, to the list of candidates along with that of Tim Brosnan, Major League Baseball's executive vice president, business. Two sources told CBSSports.com that Brosnan's name had at least been mentioned. But there is doubt whether Brosnan would leave a high-ranking position at MLB to take over the sometimes-shaky Big East.

For now, Mula is the only candidate known to have met with the search firm, Russell Reynolds Associates, an executive search firm with offices in 40 cities worldwide.

Mula worked for the Patriots from 1998-2009 reporting directly to owner Robert Kraft and coach Bill Belichick. He currently is a partner with Cornerstone Sports Consulting, an East-Coast firm headed by former Washington Redskins vice president of football operations Joe Mendes. Cornerstone calls itself a one-of-a-kind operation that deals in agent education and agent searches for players.

It counts among its clients half of the SEC including defending national champion Alabama.

Mula was with the Patriots during three Super Bowl-winning seasons. His bio says he negotiated with Tom Brady, Wes Welker, Vince Wilfork and Richard Seymour. Before joining New England, Mula was a player agent who worked with Doug Flutie, Priest Holmes and Rocket Ismail.

The Big East is eagerly awaiting TV negotiations to boost its profile and provide stability. ESPN enters a 60-day exclusive negotiating window Sept. 1 with the conference. Industry experts are split on how much the Big East will be able to cash in with its newly configured lineup. A New York Daily News report suggested that conference schools could make more than $10 million per year in a new deal. They currently make $4 million per year after turning down a $1.17 billion ESPN offer in 2011 that would have paid full members (football and basketball) $13.8 million per year.

The Big East basketball deal expires after the 2012-13 season. The football contract lasts through 2013-14. The chase for those TV bucks has caused radical realignment that caused the Big East to radically change its lineup.

By 2015, there will 21 schools (at least) with some sort of Big East affiliation. There will be 12 football-playing schools in the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Navy joins in 2015 meaning there may be another spot open to bring the football lineup to 14. By that year, there will 18 schools playing Big East basketball.

One industry source said this week that even with the addition of Boise State in football only – now considered a Big East lynchpin – a Big East deal would be worth no more than $70 million per year. CBSSports.com reported in May that the league could get as little as $50 million per year after the defections of West Virginia, Syracuse, Pittsburgh and TCU.

CBSSports.com also reported on Wednesday the Big East's interest in Pac-12 deputy commissioner Kevin Weiberg. Also in the mix are Big East senior associate commissioner Nick Carparelli and associate commissioner Tom Odjakjian.

Sports TV consultant Chris Bevilacqua is not believed to have interest in the job.

The league, down to five finalists, hopes to have a new commissioner in place by the end of the month.

 
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