New York - The new BIG EAST pressed forward into its future today, as Presidents of the member schools gathered in New York to announce a series of seminal developments that will help shape the basketball-focused conference, including an unprecedented partnership with FOX Sports that will grant the network exclusive media rights.
FOX Sports and its new national cable network, FOX Sports 1, will acquire television rights to all Big East game action, as part of a 12-year contract that was detailed during a press conference at the midtown Manhattan studios of FOX News, attended by FOX Sports President and COO Randy Freer, FOX Sports Executive Vice President Larry Jones, and Presidents of the New Big East schools, James M. Danko of Butler University; John J. DeGioia, Ph.D. of Georgetown University; Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A., Ph.D. of Villanova University; A. Gabriel Esteban, Ph.D. of Seton Hall University; Michael J. Graham, S.J. of Xavier University; Donald J. Harrington, C.M. of St. John's University; Dennis Holtschneider, C.M. of DePaul University; Timothy R. Lannon, S.J. of Creighton University; Scott Pilarz, S.J. of Marquette University; and Brian J. Shanley, O.P. of Providence College.
Under the broadcast partnership, FOX Sports will have television rights to a wide range of marquee BIG EAST basketball games, including the annual Big East conference tournament.
"The new BIG EAST is fortunate to have found a partner such as FOX Sports, which shares our intense passion for college basketball, and is committed to celebrating the student-athletes and the natural rivalries that make college athletics so unique and appealing for fans across the nation," said Father Holtschneider of DePaul University.
"We applaud all the BIG EAST schools for taking responsibility for their own destiny and forming what is clearly one of the top college basketball leagues in the country," said Mr. Freer. "The quality of the competition is obvious. Five teams who will play in the renewed BIG EAST next season are playing in this year's NCAA tournament, and seven qualified for postseason play overall. We're extremely proud and fortunate to offer college basketball of this caliber on FS1 next season and for many seasons to come."
To coincide with the broadcast announcement, the conference formally welcomed three new members - Butler, Creighton and Xavier. The three schools now officially join DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John's and Villanova as members of the new BIG EAST conference, set to commence play in a wide range of sports starting with the 2013-2014 academic year.
"This is a great day for college sports - a day that marks an inspiring return to the BIG EAST's roots as a showcase for the nation's greatest collegiate basketball programs and the extraordinary achievements of the student-athlete," said Dr. Esteban of Seton Hall University.
Added Father Donohue of Villanova University, "With the addition of Butler, Creighton and Xavier to the group of previously committed seven schools, the BIG EAST will once again revolve around, and gain its strength from, a firm foundation of historic basketball powerhouses located in the nation's most vibrant metropolitan regions."
The BIG EAST Conference will officially commence operations on July 1, 2013. Each of the inaugural members will be full conference participants starting in the 2013-2014 academic year. Each school will compete in all of the sports it offers today. The new BIG EAST will continue to invite and designate associate members, especially those from the current Big East schools, in a select group of sports, including lacrosse and field hockey.
"The BIG EAST is alive and well," said Father Pilarz of Marquette University. "The foundation we have created for this dynamic 10-team Big East conference will help preserve and build upon the Big East's storied tradition of elite level competition in a wide range of collegiate sports."
The BIG EAST Tournament will continue to call Madison Square Garden its home, and the new conference will assume the existing long-term lease agreement that extends well into the future.
"We are thrilled that MSG will continue to serve as the official home of the BIG EAST tournament. In addition to being the center of the basketball universe, the Garden has served as a thrilling backdrop for so many of the BIG EAST's most enduring memories and greatest individual achievements," said Father Harrington of St. John's University.
"Madison Square Garden has been the home of the BIG EAST Tournament for 31 years and looks forward to continuing to host this premier college basketball event," said Joel Fisher, Executive Vice President, Sports and Arena Transformation, Madison Square Garden.
Dr. DeGioia commented, "This is an extraordinary time for the BIG EAST, and we couldn't have wished for a better start to our new future. We have ten incredible schools, have retained our storied name, and have solid partnerships with FOX Sports and Madison Square Garden. We look forward to our continued work together, to strengthening our relationships, and to the truly exceptional future that this will set for our athletics programs."
Father Shanley concluded, "In building upon our firm traditions of spirited competition, intense rivalries and high achievement in intercollegiate sports, the BIG EAST will continue to be a source of tremendous excitement for our students and alumni, as well as millions of fans across the nation."
New York-based senior executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates is conducting the search for the new BIG EAST's first commissioner, seeking an aggressive and innovative commissioner to shepherd the conference to continued success and enhance its history of excellence in a wide variety of collegiate team sports.
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