The Big East Conference is one of the oldest and most prestigious collegiate basketball tournaments. It’s been the setting for numerous heartbreaks and triumphs, inspiring generations of aspiring athletes and providing fans with some of the highest quality of basketball games in the country.
Recently, the Big East has seen a resurgence in popularity and relevance, due in large part to the success of the University of Connecticut Huskies’ men’s basketball team. This past season UConn became just the fifth school in history with five men’s basketball national titles – an impressive feat that serves as a testament to the power of the Big East.
The success of UConn and the Big East ahead of upcoming television negotiations has been inspiring, with the league securing three of the past seven national titles. In addition, the entrance of Rick Pitino to St. John’s and Ed Cooley ditching Providence for Georgetown will also go a long way toward reviving the Big East’s brand.
For the Big East, the next television deal is essential for the league’s future. Currently, the league’s TV deal with Fox spans 12 years with the 11 schools believed to be getting an annual cut of distribution in the mid-to-high $40 million range. Once the 60-day exclusive period ends with Fox, Big East could be a free agent and possibly increase its league’s television market value.
The move of UConn back into the Big East was a huge step forward as it allows the league to properly showcase both its men’s and women’s basketball teams. It’s also important to note that UConn, the only team with FBS football and the only public school in the Big East, remains connected to basketball, a connection that will go a long way for the league.
The momentum generated by the Big East of late could prove to be valuable come time for negotiations. While the current economy, a glut of basketball content networks, and relatively low regular-season ratings may work against the league, championship success, reenergized markets, and an even more robust tournament in Madison Square Garden could keep the Big East competitive.
Ahead of the negotiations, the Big East is also likely to receive $30 million from the NCAA in the years between 2023-29 in tournament payouts. This, along with the uncoupling of men’s and women’s basketball regular-season to possibly increase the broadcast value, should no doubt benefit the Big East and its schools.
For her part, Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman is hoping that the conference’s success could ultimately lead to an elevation the relative value of basketball to football and other sports.
Rick Pitino is an American college basketball coach who recently joined the St. John’s Red Storm men’s basketball team as head coach. He is widely regarded as one of the most successful coaches in college basketball over the last 30 years, having led teams from the University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, and University of Providence amongst others to National Championships. His appointment is considered a coup for the Big East, with his style and reputation likely to help stimulate hype and attention for the league.
Similarly, Ed Cooley’s departure for Georgetown is also an exciting move for the league, as fans hope that he can bring some much-needed success to the university. Cooley had a great track record with Providence, having led them to 8 NCAA tournament appearances and 3 conference championships in his 10 years with the program, making him a great fit for Georgetown.
The Big East Conference’s future remains unclear, especially with a big television deal at stake. However, with a resurgence of excitement over the league, reenergized markets, and key coaching staff members taking over, the Big East is well positioned to succeed in future negotiations.