Senior Columnist

MLS No. 2, UNLV AD surface in Big East commissioner search

The names of Major League Soccer president Mark Abbott and UNLV AD Jim Livengood have surfaced in the Big East commissioner search, has learned.

The Big East would not comment on a report that the league could announce its new commissioner as soon as Tuesday afternoon. Website reported that the Big East was “ready to introduce” its new commissioner on Tuesday following a conference call among the presidents.

“We have no comment on that report,” Big East spokesman John Paquette said, “However, we'll see.”

The league is known to be searching for an out-of-the-box candidate similar to the Pac-12's Larry Scott. The only known candidate to interview with the league's search firm is former New England Patriots' general counsel Jack Mula. reported Mula's meeting last week. Senior associate commissioner Nick Carparelli is also a candidate.

Abbott, 47, has spent the last 6 ½ years running the business operations for the league. He listed on the league's website as the MLS' first employee in 1993. Abbott was previously practiced law in the same firm as Alan Rothenberg who founded the league.

Livengood, 67, is one of the most well-known college administrators in the country. He has been with UNLV since December 2009. Previous to that Livengood spent 15 years at Arizona.

Big East interim commissioner Joe Bailey said recently that the search is down to five finalists. also learned Tuesday that Celtics president Rich Gotham is not being considered. His name surfaced briefly over the weekend. Gotham has a Big East pedigree having come out of Providence College which has ties to the three previous commissions – Dave Gavitt, Mike Tranghese and John Marinatto.

Gotham is in his ninth year with the Celtics. He spent five with global internet media company Lycos.

The Big East got a huge boost Monday when it was able to retain high-powered media consultant Chris Bevilacqua to negotiate its new TV deal. ESPN enters an exclusive 60-day negotiating window with the league Sept. 1.

If a commissioner is not in place it is conceivable that with Bevilacqua's clout in the negotiations, the league could continue to take its time with the hire.

Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.
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