Ackerman, Big East set priorities for future
by Nicole Auerbach, USA TODAY Sports
NEW YORK — They kept the Big East name and record book, but they had to start from scratch for the rest.
That’s what commissioner Val Ackerman means when she calls the Big East “kind of a start-up” and a “re-brand in some ways.” She’s had to set up basic functions, like a payroll system. She is still searching for office space in Manhattan to house the conference office, and she is still in the process of making hires to fill it. “All the things you take for granted in a conference office,” Xavier athletic director Greg Christopher says.
And if Ackerman has any down time, she’s reading magazines, like Inc., that focus on business.
“That’s sort of for entrepreneurs,” Ackerman says. “That’s what we are. We’re not a big company. We have to get that going.”
Big East athletic directors expect Ackerman to focus on the long-term health of their conference, in addition to simply getting it up and running. They point to the importance of maintaining a good relationship with Madison Square Garden, which hosts their postseason tournament. “There seems to be some New York envy, it’s out there,” she says, referring to other conferences like the ACC and Big Ten, which are expanding their footprint, markets and marquee events to include New York City.
Two major issues will affect the Big East’s future, likely more than anything else: expansion and the NCAA governance model.
The Big East originally started with the “Catholic 7″ – DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Villanova. Those seven added Butler, Creighton and Xavier to reach 10, and that may not be the ultimate size of the league.
“I’d call it right now an openness to expansion – I think, because you have to be in this world,” Ackerman says. “I have not even had this discussion yet with my presidents … so I would say it’s on the back burner, but I would not say it will never happen. But at this point, it’s not something anyone is spending a lot of time working on.”
More pressing, perhaps, is the possibility of drastic changes to the NCAA … [For more on Ackerman, Big East set priorities for future, click here.]