Mike Aresco has decades of experience in the television business--and zero in the college athletics business.
But the presidents of the Big East are hoping upon hope that Aresco's experience in the former might help him become a success in the latter. In truth, the league's very future may depend on it.
On Tuesday, the much-maligned Big East--the conference that has been more negatively impacted by college football's recent realignment madness more than any other--announced that Aresco, a longtime television executive who most recently served as vice president for programming at CBS, would become the conference's next commissioner.
The league has been without a permanent commissioner since John Marinatto was fired from the job earlier this year. Marinatto, who spent almost his entire career in the service of the Big East, was removed after the league lost such key members as West Virginia, Pitt and Syracuse to other conferences, placing its very survival as a football conference at risk. The league responded by adding a few new members from around the country (Boise State is set to enter next year), but the damage was done, and conference presidents felt a change was needed.
In a statement, Cincinnati president Greg Williams said the league's search for a new commissioner as "truly an international search."
"We had many outstanding candidates, but we are fortunate to have Mike Aresco as our new Commissioner," Williams said. "His breadth of experience and depth of knowledge in intercollegiate athletics will continue to move the Big East forward on a successful path. The Big East has enjoyed a great history. Mike Aresco will help assure the conference of a vibrant future."
Added, Judy Genshaft, president of the University of South Florida: "[Aresco] has all of the characteristics that we need in a Commissioner. His career has been filled with achievement and success in intercollegiate sports. Mike Aresco knows the Big East and he has a great vision for our future."
In his new role, Aresco's charge will be fairly straightforward, if a bit daunting: He'll need to stabilize his conference's membership (honest question: Does anyone actually think Boise isn't already looking elsewhere?), bring peace between the warring football and basketball factions, bring in new programs to raise the league's profile, and perhaps most importantly, gain the Big East more visibility (and more money) through television.
He starts in September.
Photo: Can the Big East's new commissioner hold on to Boise State? And can he bring in other top programs to help solidify the league? (Getty Images)