Name’s changed but AAC still committed to Providence
FULL-COURT PRESS: The American Athletic Conference – the organization that was formerly known as the Big East – doesn’t plan expansion beyond the 11 members it will have once Navy joins next year, says Commissioner Mike Aresco.
By Patrick Anderson PBN Staff Writer
It’s NCAA tournament time – do you know what conference your favorite team plays in? For New England college basketball fans, the last two years of conference realignment have brought dizzying change, including the breakup of former regional stalwart the Big East. While local schools such as Providence College are pursuing their future in a new regional Catholic league, the organization that was the Big East remains headquartered in Providence, even as it rebrands itself as a national conference.
Veteran television executive Mike Aresco took over the conference – with offices in the Gateway Center on Park Row West – in the waning days of the old Big East and kept it together through changes to almost all of its membership.
PBN: How different is your organization now than it was one year ago when it was still the Big East?
ARESCO: The difference is night and day from a year ago. This was an unusual conference because you had a number of schools that only played basketball and schools that played basketball and football. You even had more that were coming into the league that had committed to play only football. You had a three-headed operation. Now we are almost fully aligned. Everybody plays football and basketball except when Navy joins next year they will only play football. Everyone is on the same page when it comes to how they view their athletic departments and the size and budgets are much more similar.
PBN: And how about the organization’s size and structure? Has that changed?
ARESCO: It is similar. I have streamlined our operation and strengthened certain areas such as the TV area. We have all of our games now on some form of television, ESPN or CBS, and we have started a digital network. … We operate pretty much the same, but one big difference is we don’t have a set of bylaws with basketball-only schools and football-only schools. We have been able to merge all of that.