BIG EAST CONFERENCE & FOX SPORTS ANNOUNCE
EXTENSIVE, MULTI-PLATFORM MEDIA RIGHTS AGREEMENT
Transcribed Quotes from Today’s Press Conference in New York
A press conference was held earlier today in New York to announce that the Big East Conference and FOX Sports have entered into a landmark 12-year multi-platform media rights agreement beginning with the 2013-14 academic year. The announcement was made today by the presidents of the Big East’s member institutions, along with FOX Sports Co-President and COO Randy Freer and FOX Sports Executive Vice President, Larry Jones and hosted by FOX Sports play-by-play announcer Gus Johnson.
The reconstituted Big East Conference now features Butler University, Creighton University, DePaul University, Georgetown University, Marquette University, Providence College, St. John’s University, Seton Hall University, Villanova University and Xavier University beginning with the 2013-14 academic year. Georgetown, Providence, St. John’s and Seton Hall are all founding members of the Big East, which began conference play in 1979. Villanova was added in 1980, while DePaul and Marquette joined in 2005. The official addition of Butler, Creighton and Xavier universities was also announced during the press conference today.
A transcript of remarks made at today’s press conference is below. New photography, including photos of all 10 Big East university presidents, is available by logging onto www.foxflash.com. The BIG EAST PRESS CONFERENCE link is under the FOX SPORTS 1 tab in the bottom right corner.
FOX Sports Co-President and COO Randy Freer on extent of Big East rights agreement: “It does extend to all sports in the conference. We anticipate doing a number of sports including women’s basketball and lacrosse. There are some great baseball teams in the conference and we look forward to determining where we can best highlight these great universities and their great programs.”
“We have all rights to every platform across the board. That comes with a full array of TV Everywhere. We will sit down with the conference to determine the best products out there and how we integrate them into FOX Sports GO and the rest of our digital products and at the same time, determine how the conference creates its own digital platform.”
Freer on FOX Sports’ excitement about the deal: “We think we get a great deal of value out of this. It brings to us top-tier college basketball that we can explore and experience and bring our production values to. It creates opportunities across the board and creates a tremendous amount of programming hours over the course of the winter that will really help us build FOX Sports 1. We’re excited about it. We think it brings great value.”
Georgetown University President John DeGioia on the Big East returning to its basketball roots: “We look at the integrity and the coherence of our programs. This is what makes sense for us. To take football to the BCS-level, is just not who we are. It’s not our identity, it doesn’t make sense. What we had was the capacity to bring together these institutions in a way to ensure that our students engaged in the intercollegiate athletics have the best possible experience.”
Opening Remarks from FOX Sports Co-President and COO Randy Freer:
“We’re incredibly excited. [FOX Sports Co-President] Eric Shanks, [FOX Sports Executive Vice President] Larry Jones, myself and [News Corporation COO] Chase Carey are thrilled to be a part of the future of the Big East. We think it’s a great opportunity and I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again; we truly applaud these universities for taking control of their destiny. For taking this opportunity to rethink who they are and what they are in the athletics space in today’s world.
We hope that this is one step further to the stabilization of college sports today. Hopefully over the next decade and longer, we can settle back into great rivalries, great opportunities on the court and great fun for fans and student all over the country.
Two weeks ago, we launched FOX Sports 1 here in New York, and the Big East adds another opportunity and another pillar for us along with MLB, NASCAR, college football with the Big 12 and Pac-12, UEFA Champions League, the FIFA World Cup coming in 2015 and a host of other major events and major sports that really allows FOX and FOX Sports 1 to be the home of big events. We look forward to next March when FOX Sports 1 will be the home to the big event of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden.”
Opening Remarks President Providence College Father Brian J. Shanley:
“As Gus mentioned, I am the president of Providence College and I think I am here before you today because I represent the beginnings of the Big East in Providence, Rhode Island, and I am especially honored to be here today because what we celebrate today. What we relaunch today is the culmination of the work of Dave Gavitt.
Dave Gavitt was the athletic director and basketball coach at Providence College in the late 1970’s when I was an undergraduate. Dave was prescient about the changes that were coming in the collegiate landscape and he realized that the schools that played basketball together – the
Syracuses, the Providences, the Connecticuts, the Georgetowns, the Villanovas, that if we didn’t get together and form a conference that was basketball-centric, that was located in the best media markets and that was played at the highest level, we would be left behind.
So some of the greatest coaches in the history of the Big East, some athletic directors with generosity and wisdom to see where we needed to go, and Dave started the Big East in little Providence, Rhode Island.
And yes, my father’s firm did the first marketing study for the Big East. Dave Duffy recently gave me the original memo that they prepared for the ADs and the coaches where the last two pages were the names. Now, I’m not going to disclose the other names but let’s just say that the Big East was by far the best name that Duffy and Shanley came up with. By the way, my father never took credit for that name. He wasn’t the creative person at the time.
I remember reading that memo and in that memo it says, ‘this name is bold, this name is strong and this name is memorable.’ That’s why it’s been important for us to keep the name and to keep that legacy going. It is strong and it is memorable. It is bold and it is associated with some of the greatest moments in college basketball in the last 35 years.
Today we relaunch the Big East. We reboot, in a sense, the Big East will go back to being a basketball-centric student centered urban mostly Catholic, I’ll get back to that, basketball league going forward, and I think Dave is smiling down right now on what it is that we are doing.
Our first task as a group was to figure out who would join us. We can’t be the Big East with seven schools. Even a marketer can’t make that work. We needed to expand and we had the luxury of having a lot of really good schools out there that we thought would like to join us. We used the same criteria that we did way back when Dave was starting this.
We want to be with really good academic schools. We want to be with schools that really do believe in the old student athlete, and both of those things are important. We wanted schools with strong sustainable and sustained athletic programs. We wanted schools that can play really good basketball because that’s really the bread and butter of the Big East.
When we examined all the schools we thought about, we came to the conclusion that the three schools seated here among us today were the best schools we could possibly ask to join the Big East – Butler, Xavier and Creighton. We are thrilled to have you guys among our number. You bring all those things that I just talked about. You have great academic traditions. You have great leadership in your athletic department. You’re committed student athletes and you play some really good basketball and we look forward to battling with you for years to come. You add a lot to our conference.
We never intended to be an all-Catholic conference, that was never part of Dave’s vision. We don’t take Butler just because they are the token non-Catholic, but because they are ferocious
on the basketball court. There is no truth to the rumor that we took two more Jesuit schools because there is a Jesuit pope. We had that decision made before this pope got elected, and we are really thrilled to have these schools with us. They bring that same passion to basketball that we have, and they bring us into new places where we want to be.
It strengthens, if you will, our Midwest corridor right now. We are in some of the great cities of the Midwest and that’s very important to us going forward. We also bring in some good rivalries that are already there and some old rivalries that will be reinvigorated as we go forward.
The second thing that we had to do is get a media partner, and I think this is really important for everyone to understand: our decision to separate from the football schools was motivated mainly by the feeling that the football/basketball model was unstable and we were looking for stability.
I want our student-athletes, and I think our coaches and ADs feel the same way, to be able to recruit them to come to Providence College and say for the next twelve years here are the schools you are going to be playing with, we don’t need to worry this year somebody’s out, next year somebody is in.
We have a group of schools now that have made a big commitment to each other and a big commitment to surprise…surprise…FOX Sports.
Today we celebrate and we thank FOX Sports for inviting us to partner with them. FOX Sports 1 is going to be a go-getter from the get-go and that’s very important to us. We are excited to be in on the ground floor with you guys. You are going to challenge for a destination dial in basketball and in all sports, and that’s really going to help us. We love being part of the whole panoply of programs that you have going forward.
FOX offers us in a 12-year deal that kind of stability that we’ve been yearning for that we know five years from now, eight years from now, who we are going to be playing with – we are all right here.
We are going to be featured on the FOX Sports 1 platform, and that exposure is very important to us. We want our schools names out there; we want our conference name out there. This is truly an exciting venture for us going forward, so we look forward to partnering with you for years and years to come.
Finally, the other piece that we really wanted to maintain going forward was Madison Square Garden. We are pleased to announce today a continuation of a long and happy marriage of the Garden and the Big East Tournament.
Most of us were here last week; and there is nothing like Madison Square Garden and the Big East Tournament. New York City is a destination place for everybody, even Omaha people are going to come to New York City next year and they are going to love it. They are going to want to be here every spring.
This is a place that Providence College has been coming to since the 1958 NIT. Our fans love coming here, I love coming here, and the Garden is the temple of basketball. There is no better place to watch a game just the thrill of walking into the Garden is something that every basketball fan appreciates.
We look forward next year to the Big East Tournament as a springtime ritual in the Garden where we are going to throw down the gloves with our new members and have a new, invigorated tournament and send every school to the NCAAs. No, hopefully it will be a great year for us, and we thank the Garden for that.
I think we stand in a position of strength as is reflected in our name, and that somewhere up there Dave Gavitt is smiling and I am smiling down here because this is a great day for the Big East.”
Opening Remarks from Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia:
“I want to begin by expressing our gratitude on behalf of all of us to our former Big East colleagues and to our commissioner, Mike Aresco. By working cooperatively and with deep respect for one another, we were able to achieve the collegial and mutually beneficial separation and we are grateful to our colleagues for this opportunity.
We have deeply enjoyed our relationship with our Big East colleagues over these years and we look forward to maintaining an informal alliance into the future. We also fully expect that many of the rivalries which have defined the Big East over the years will continue on, and we welcome that.
This is truly an exciting time and in many ways it is remarkable. With all the football driven changes that have occurred in college sports, we are here today discussing the very same things that were discussed when the Big East was established in 1979.
Back then, the Big East was formed by a group of distinguished schools that shared long histories of academic excellence in distinctly urban settings. Reflecting their home cities each of those schools had embraced and cultivated a rich tradition of urban basketball. It was and is one of the many characteristics that abound the schools in their student athletes to their local communities. We are extremely proud of this tradition.
With the actions that we have taken, we will demonstrate that there is a shared sense of civic pride and passion for the college game is alive and well today.
Before we get to your questions, I want to briefly touch on the dynamics of creating a new organizational structure as well as some of the logistics we now face in front of us. I want to share in Brian’s expression of appreciation we could not have wished for a better start. We have 10 incredible schools. We’ve retained our storied name and we have solid partnerships with FOX Sports and Madison Square Garden.
Despite the many successes that we have achieved in such a short amount of time, we still have a great deal of work to do for this coming year. We should create the best organization possible – an organization that will serve all of our student athletes in our more than two dozen sports. Our mission is to create a structure that immediately responds to their needs and insures the long term stability of all of our athletic programs.
To this end we have retained Russell Reynolds Associates, a highly regarded senior executive search firm to assist us in our search for a new commissioner. We are committed to finding a commissioner of vision, someone who will help us to look to the future while also preserving our traditions.
We are also bringing in Dan Beebe, a former commissioner of the Ohio Valley and Big 12 conferences to serve as a consultant. Dan will work with our athletic directors to facilitate a process which will ensure that we have the best organizational structure for us and begin the process of ensuring we are ready for this fall’s competition.
I want to conclude by noting one final point; that all the sports offered at our schools today will continue as we move forward. In most cases those sports will be played in the reconstituted Big East. For a select group of sports such as rowing, lacrosse and field hockey we will continue a Big East tradition of inviting other schools to come in as associate members.
This is an extraordinary time for the Big East. We look forward to our continued work together to the strengthening of our relationships and to the truly exceptional future that this will set for all of our athletic programs.”