Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Q & A With Tim Pernetti on the New Big East Commish
By MATT SUGAM
Special to ZAGSBLOGPISCATAWAY, N.J. – Rutgers Athletic Director Tim Pernetti spoke with the media during football practice Tuesday to talk about the Big East’s new Commissioner, Mike Aresco. Here’s the question and answer session:
Q: Can you just give us your thoughts on the new Commissioner?
A: I think it’s great for the conference. I think the conference has had a great week. The media negotiation that’s coming up really is the moment that’s going to define the league going forward not only from the perspective of membership and what it’s ability is to generate in the market, but also stability, so I think focusing on that and what the league has done this week hiring Chris Bevilacqua was a very strong move and something that’s been discussed for quite a while and he’s the best there is out there right now and I think he’ll do a tremendous job for the league. And hiring Mike — an outside-the-box hire — I worked with both of these guys for years. He’s a high-integrity guy. He’s got great relationships, good consensus builder. He’s been around the business and seen it all, so I think as we gear up towards our media negations I don’t think we could have had a better week as a conference.
Q: Are you pleased that it’s a guy with an extensive TV background? I mean is that, in your mind, the top priority?
A: If you’re asking me, I think that that had to be a huge piece of the hire because it’s not just about what’s coming for the league, but the whole business right now is moving and changing and shaking with TV at the core. TV’s at the core of expansion. TV’s at the core of membership. TV’s at the core of helping institutions become self-sufficient financially. So I think with all those things tying back to media and television, I think it had to be a pretty heavy prerequisite, so from my perspective and from a lot of the folks in the league’s perspective, it’s a terrific result.
Q: Any concern about the timing that you have two weeks before the window starts with ESPN, or is he, because of his extensive TV background, going to catch up quickly?
A: I think certainly it gives Mike a leg up. And I think with Chris on board as the consultant, you couldn’t have two better equipped guys to be able to do it on a shorter timeframe. While the timing’s not ideal, I’m not sure the timing’s ever ideal, but in this case I think you got a well-equipped group because again, the negotiations — this next 90 days is really going to define the future of the league, but I think the leadership of the league’s done a terrific job of essentially loading our guns as much as we can load them for the next 90 days.
Q: With you knowing both of those guys, what are they like just as people in terms of being able to sell the conference and stuff like that?
A: Great people. I met Mike Aresco when I first got into the TV business years ago and not only did I work with him as a colleague, but he helped mentor me in a lot of ways as I was growing up in the business and Bevi[lacqua] is a guy I met in my first year in TV and he convinced me to go over to CSTV to be part of that thing which was one of the more fun things I’ve ever done in my career. But, as individuals, you have smart, strategic guys that can sell. That understand assets and how to maximize assets. As people — sort of the off-the-field piece — you couldn’t find two better guys. Having spoken to both of them today and over the last couple of days, we joked about kind of getting the band back together. We worked on a lot of stuff together and did a lot of things along the way and I think having those guys back in the fold will be terrific for the conference, but really two very good — with all the assets they have and what they’ve done in their careers — two really good people.
Q: With a 60 day window with ESPN, would you be surprised if the deal is done within that time or do you think it’s going to be in the open market?
A: Nothing would surprise me. I can’t really speak or speculate what may or may not happen. I would tell you what my personal opinion is which is I think that you can’t not win in this market — live sports rights continue to be at a premium and the marketplace being on the seller’s side, being the content provider, is a great position to be in because it’s not just about revenue, but it’s about exposure, but everything is increasing with every deal that’s done, so I think we’re in a great position. But what I would tell you is that, in my personal opinion, you don’t fully realize your maximum value until you’re on the open market as a free agent. But having said that I think we have a commissioner and a TV consultant that are far more capable than me in being able to determine that and being able to make recommendations, and I’m pretty excited about what they can do for the league.
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.