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By Curtis Eichelberger
WASHINGTON - Big East Commissioner John Marinatto resigned today following a period in which the league lost three long-time member schools before expanding from coast to coast.
Joseph A. Bailey III, former chief executive officer of the Miami Dolphins and managing director at the executive recruiting firm RSR Partners, will serve as interim commissioner.
“After a great deal of thought and prayer, I have decided to step down as commissioner,” Marinatto said in a statement from the Providence-based conference. “Our recent expansion efforts have stabilized the conference for the long term, and we are likewise well positioned for our very important upcoming television negotiations.”
The Big East has hired the Boston Consulting Group to review its organizational design and structure to maximize its media rights, branding and other strategies, the league said in the statement.
The search for the new commissioner will be led by University of Cincinnati President Gregory H. Williams and a member of the Big East executive committee who wasn’t named.
CBSSports.com reported that the Big East presidents asked Marinatto to resign yesterday. Marinatto has been representing the conference in meetings to determine a new football postseason playoff format in 2014 and would have entered negotiations with Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN and other networks this September on a new television contract.
The departure comes a week before the conference’s spring meetings in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
Marinatto was the third commissioner in the conference’s history. He was hired in July 2009 to replace Mike Tranghese, who led the Big East from 1990 to 2009. The first commissioner was Dave Gavitt, who managed the conference from 1979 to 1990.
The Big East lost Texas Christian University and West Virginia to the Big 12 Conference and will lose Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2013 or 2014. TCU left before it ever played a Big East game.
With the conference’s future in doubt, Marinatto lured eight new members. Temple University will join this year. The University of Memphis, Southern Methodist University, the University of Central Florida, the University of Houston, Boise State University and San Diego State University will join in 2013. The U.S. Naval Academy will be added in 2015.