When John Marinatto stepped down as the Big East commissioner, he was replaced by Joe Bailey, an interim head-honcho with experience in recruiting sports executives -- but more importantly as an executive with the Miami Dolphins. Paul Tagliabue had been consulting with the conference office to help them re-position and re-build a broken-down brand. The Georgetown alumnus and former NFL commissioner has left his mark it seems, as the conference is looking through the adviser's rolodex for it's next chief executive.
According to CBS Sports, former New England Patriots general counsel Jack Mula is now a candidate for the Big East's opening. He is thus far the only candidate who has met in-person with the conference's head hunters, Russell Reynolds, doing so last week.
Mula is currently a partner with Cornerstone Sports Consulting, which is a firm that works with Universities to "[provide] a quality educational program to assist the university as it addresses the career guidance needs of the student-athlete and his family." Most importantly, Cornerstone helps student-athletes find and sign with agents when they are prepared to go pro (and provides a buffer between agents and players for the schools they work with). With the Patriots, he advised and worked in all areas of the organization's operation, including contract negotiation, player conduct and discipline, marketing and media, football operations, and legal and business affairs -- all of which could be valuable to a college commissioner.
The Big East is also considering a few other candidates, but ultimately hopes to have a decision by the end of the month.
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Also in the mix for the job are two in-house candidates, senior associate commissioner Nick Carparelli and associate commissioner Tom Odjakjian. Despite their mentions in media, however, it is expected by many that the conference will look outside the walls of their Providence offices for their next commissioner.
Among the other outside candidates is Pac-12 deputy commissioner Kevin Weiberg, who has spoken to interim commissioner Joe Bailey and the conference's search firm about the position. Weiberg was involved with the Big Ten when they were launching their highly-successful conference TV network and had been the commissioner of the Big 12 conference from 1998 until 2007.
There is also interest in Major League Baseball executive Tim Brosnan, though there is some doubt over whether he would be interested in the job (especially since he may be a candidate to replace Bud Selig down the line). Sports TV consultant Chris Bevilacqua had also been rumored to be in the mix, but CBS Sports has reported that he is not interested.
The conference will enter negotiations for its next TV deal on September 1st, when ESPN will have an exclusive 60-day window to talk to the conference about an extension. After that 60-day period, it is expected that at-least NBC Sports and Fox will also enter the discussions.
As for how big the TV deal can get; that depends on who you might ask. Carparelli and a report from Dick Weiss of the New York Daily News recently estimated that the Big East could receive a pay-out that would be around $14million per year for football/basketball members and $4million per year for the basketball-only schools. CBS's unnamed sources have tended to estimate lower amounts.
The process of selecting a new commissioner should be over before Labor Day, which is when Joe Bailey intends to pack up his office, but apparently the pace of the league in making a decision is not helping them to secure a candidate.
Once that is done, the league's next priority will be to replace Dan Gavitt, who is now in charge of the NCAA's basketball tournament. At the Big East, Gavitt was charged with running basketball operations, doing so very successfully.