Conference realignment cost Dan Beebe his job with the Big 12 and now it has cost John Marinatto his as well. The Big East commissioner tendered his resignation, according to a press release put out this morning. He was just the third person to hold that position since the league was founded.
"After a great deal of thought and prayer, I have decided to step down as Commissioner of the BIG EAST Conference and formally advised our Board of Directors," said Marinatto's statement. "I have been associated with this league for my entire adult life and have had the tremendous honor of serving as its Commissioner since 2009. Our recent expansion efforts have stabilized the Conference for the long term, and we are likewise well positioned for our very important upcoming television negotiations. As a result, I felt this was the right time to step aside and to let someone else lead us through the next chapter of our evolution. I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish and would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank both our membership and my staff for their unwavering encouragement, support and loyalty -- especially during this past year. I am extremely confident about the future of this league that I love very much."
According to CBS Sports, the Big East presidents have asked John Marinatto to resign yesterday, just two weeks before the conference's annual meeting of presidents in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. ESPN's report claims that the non-football members were upset about how they had no voice in the expansion process.
Marinatto lead the conference through a round of expansion that started with the aborted addition of TCU in fall 2010 and ended with the current plan to have 18 basketball schools and 13 football schools starting in 2013. The moves, or the need for them in the wake of three members leaving for the ACC and Big 12, did not inspire confidence in the commissioner, however.
He also wanted to accept a television contract offered by ESPN a year ago. Georgetown officials convinced the conference members to vote down the deal that they felt was a "low-ball" offer.
More changes are coming to the Big East and a strong leader is needed to guide the league through them. More importantly, however, the conference plans to bring its television rights to the negotiating table in the fall and hopes to secure a deal that will pay members enough money to buy their loyalty.
In the mean time, the Big East has hired Joseph A. Bailey III as interim commissioner, and he will stay in that position while the league searches for a permanent commissioner. Bailey has significant football experience, as CEO of the Miami Dolphins, COO of the World League/NFL, Vice President of the Dallas Cowboys and other positions. He has also served as Managing Director of RSR Partners, a recruiting firm.
"Joe is a proven leader who will do a terrific job guiding the conference through this time of transition," said Genshaft. "His experience as a manager and his knowledge of the sports industry make Joe uniquely qualified to serve as interim Commissioner. He will move the Conference forward with a steady-hand as we explore new opportunities."
The conference also announced that The Boston Consulting Group was hired to review the organizational design and structure of the Big East. They hope that the consulting firm will help the conference to maximize media rights and branding going forward.
Marinatto told the NY Times that he will take some time off to "recharge" before deciding on his next career move. He will have to determine whether to seek another college athletics position or to go into a private business.
Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti was a finalist for the Big East job the last time it was open, and it is possible that the conference will consider him as a candidate again. In addition to experience as an athletic director, Pernetti has experience as a television executive with a precursor to the CBS Sports Network. That may help him to get the attention of the Big East presidents, looking toward their own TV rights coming up for negotiation soon.
Other candidates suggested by CBS Sports' Brett McMurphy are Nick Carparelli, Kevin Weiberg, Kit Morris, Greg Shaheen, and Tom Odjakjian.
Carparelli is currently a senior associate commissioner with the Big East conference, with football being his area of expertise. He had previously been the director of football operations at the New England Patriots and a football assistant or administrator at Notre Dame and Syracuse.
Odjakjian is an associate Big East commissioner who has been chiefly responsible for television negotiations and scheduling for football and basketball since 1995. Prior to the Big East, he worked as the Director of College Sports for ESPN and worked at ECAC and Princeton University prior to that.
Shaheen is the recently-ousted NCAA official who was responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the hugely-popular basketball tournament as well as over $6 billion in contracts with ESPN and CBS. He was extremely popular with school officials, but the NCAA opted to replace him instead of promoting him.
Weiberg is the former commissioner of the Big 12 conference and has most recently served as the deputy commissioner of the Pac-12, since 2010. He has oversight responsibility for Pac-12 daily operations, including governance, enforcement, compliance, sport management, championships, football bowl relationships, officiating, and television administration.
Morris is the Director of College Sports Marketing at Nike and has extensive experience in the sports industry.
It isn't clear that this list is a complete or final list of candidates, but certainly these names will be on the Big East presidents' minds going forward. The next commissioner will likely have a background in football and/or television to allow the conference to position itself for a stronger television contract and more stability going forward.