Big East commissioner John Marinatto reiterated Wednesday that the conference will not allow Syracuse and Pittsburgh to move to the ACC before their 27-month waiting periods expire.
We have no intention of doing that, Marinatto said at the Big East men's basketball media day at The New York Athletic Club. Period. Exclamation point. End of sentence.
Marinatto remained adamant in that stance during nearly 20 minutes of press time at the Big East's media day Wednesday. In those 20 minutes, he also addressed a number of aspects pertaining to the Big East realignment and conference shifts over the past month.
In his opening press conference to start the event, Marinatto quoted the book The Precious Present by Dr. Spencer Johnson to sum up the last month of activity in the Big East.
We're planning for the future, but we're focused on the present, Marinatto said. We cherish the past, but we're focused on the present.
That quote neatly wrapped Marinatto's attitudes over the past month into two sentences. And here's the past month in two sentences:
The Big East loses two of its signature members, Syracuse and Pittsburgh, to the ACC. Off their defections, TCU also defected from its prospective membership next season to instead join the Big 12.
Of course, it gets much more complicated than that. Marinatto touched on some of those things Wednesday: how the last month has affected him personally and professionally, and how the repercussions are being felt across the Big East.
In a conference call Tuesday, Marinatto tried to get all the realignment topics out of the way. He said, as expected, the 14 remaining Big East schools had agreed to double the exit fee from $5 million to $10 million, hopefully discouraging some schools from leaving the conference. He also confirmed that the Big East was attempting to add six schools to push its football membership to 12. Among the rumored targets: Boise State, Navy, Air Force, Houston, Central Florida and SMU.
By the word 'present,' Dr. Johnson means the here and the now, Marinatto said, referring back to the quote in his opening remarks. And that just describes this upcoming season for the Big East.
Yes, there is a lot of speculation and anticipation based on the conference news of the past several weeks. But all of you know that the leadership of our conference is working hard to solidify and improve the long-term future of the Big East conference.
The short-term future includes 26 more months of Syracuse and Pittsburgh, despite the schools' public clamoring in recent weeks for an early exit. But Marinatto is refusing to give in publicly so far and playing hardball, at least until he knows which schools the Big East is able to pry away from smaller conferences to replace the three it lost in the past month.
Even the situation of adding more teams though, Marinatto said, wouldn't affect the Big East's plans. If all goes according to plan and the conference adds six members, it could potentially have 14 football members and 19 basketball members next season. But he said the conference's research indicates that could still be successful.
We've modeled it, he said. If you have a 19-team basketball conference, everybody plays each other once. We've actually done models for 24.
That number surprised many coaches, including St. John's assistant Gene Keady, who filled in as part of the St. John's table for head coach Steve Lavin, currently recovering from prostate cancer surgery.
Twenty-four? he said incredulously, moving back in his chair. I think that's a little too much.
Marinatto also revealed that the Big East has discussed a grant of rights, to the point where one was almost in place before Syracuse and Pittsburgh left for the ACC. The Big Ten and Pac-12 currently have grants of rights, which are contracts between school and conference that strongly discourage movement between conferences.
If it shifts conferences, the school has to leave most of its football TV rights with the conference. He said once the conference gains more stability, its members will discuss a grant of rights again.
Of all the tools you can use to reinforce stability, I think that's probably the most important and the most effective, Marinatto said.