Schools leaving ‘straw that broke’ Big East
by Mark Blaudschun, Special for USA TODAY Sports
Former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese has watched the slow demolition of a league that he had been part of since it was founded in 1979 with a growing sense of disappointment, anger and sadness.
The former commissioner said that while the official announcement of the departure of the seven Catholic Big East Schools — DePaul, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Marquette, Villanova, Providence and Georgetown — was the “straw that broke the camel’s back,” the most crippling move occurred a year earlier when Syracuse (along with Pittsburgh) announced it was switching to the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“Once the Big East lost Syracuse, that was it in my mind in terms of the Big East,” Tranghese, who retired as Big East commissioner in 1999, said Monday in an interview with USA TODAY Sports.
“Having said that, I think the group of Catholic schools can be successful. I do feel sorry for the people they left behind. They are going to have a tough time of it. A school like Connecticut which has seven national championships in women’s basketball and three in men’s basketball is pretty much in limbo.”
Tranghese was there at the start in 1979 when Dave Gavitt formed the Big East. He was the man behind the idea of “Big Monday” which remains a staple of ESPN’s regular-season college basketball coverage. In 1991 as commissioner he Tranghese was there in 1991 when, as commissioner, he usheredorchestrated the Big East into the faster moving waters of college football with the addition of Miami. as a cornerstone. And, he was there a dozen years later when the ACC started to poach Big East teams, which started a conference reconfiguration movement that continues today.
“When I retired, (his late wife) Susan told me that I had too much energy and needed to keep working,” he said. “I told her, ‘Bad stuff is going to happen, and I don’t want to be part of it when it happens.’ “
He talks with USA TODAY Sports about not only what he saw but also expects to happen.
Q. Having been part of the Big East since its berth, what is your … [For more on Catholic schools leaving 'straw that broke' Big East, click here.]