As the Big East prepares for negotiations regarding its television rights deal, league commissioner John Marinatto is still considering further expanding the conference.
Marinatto said he will only consider adding a school that contributes “value” to the conference.
The conference will add TCU as its ninth football member, and 17th member overall, in the fall of 2012. The move gives the Big East another huge television market, along with New York, Philadelphia and Chicago, but could further complicate the relationship between the schools that play football and those that don’t. The football members would like to add another school, but that choice has to appease the basketball members, too.
Marinatto must keep the expansion issues in the forefront as they must be settled before a television rights deal can be reached. The current deals for the Big East, which has separate deals for football and basketball, expire in 2013.
The other conferences have been scoring staggering deals over the last year, the latest coming last month when the Pac-12 signed a 12-year, $3 billion deal with Fox and ESPN.
Marinatto said the Big East was close to signing an extension with ESPN but decided to test the market instead. That market is expanding with NBC now stepping into the cable sports network game and Fox looking to add to its inventory.
“Having last bat, last dance, provides us an opportunity to evaluate what everybody else has done,” Marinatto said. “Our agreements four years ago were negotiated in a very different marketplace and during a difficult time for our conference.
“We now have a golden opportunity to secure our long-term security,” he said. “We can again achieve equity with the other major conferences. … We can’t make a mistake this time.”
The problem is the larger size creates more scheduling and travel problems and creates a futher divide between the football schools and the basketball powers. It seems likely that at some point the conference will end up breaking apart over those differences.
Will it last for now? Maybe. But as a long term proposition it seems unlikely to have staying power