Published Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 12:01 am / Updated at 10:53 am
No immediate plan to expand Big East

NEW YORK — New Big East commissioner Val Ackerman indicated Wednesday that the fledgling basketball-centric conference has no immediate plans for expansion. In addressing reporters at the league's first basketball media day, Ackerman did not rule out future additions to the 10-team conference made up of seven former members of the original Big East as well as Creighton, Butler and Xavier.

“I don't think anyone in college sports has a crystal ball and can tell you what their league or the NCAA is going to look like in the coming years,'' Ackerman said. “I think every conference has to be plugged into what's happening and what opportunities exist for it.

“I can tell you our focus is getting operational, integrating our three new schools and then managing the press of every-day conference business.''

Almost seven months after it was announced that the league was being formed, the conference has but a handful of employees and has not secured office space in New York City.

Ackerman said a 10-team league provides ease in scheduling, and the present members have a great amount in common in regard to academic and athletic goals.

“We have a very cohesive group,'' she said. “If we do expand, we would be very selective. We would go through a very exhaustive process to make sure that whoever we bring in fits with the goals of the Big East Conference and adds something. What we have right now is pretty darn good.''

Much of Ackerman's remarks dealt with the importance basketball will play in the conference. The original Big East was formed in 1979 with an emphasis on that sport but football had come to drive conference decisions in its later years.

That led St. John's, Georgetown, Providence, Marquette, DePaul, Villanova and Seton Hall to pull out of the league last December and band with Creighton, Butler and Xavier to form the reconfigured league.

“This is a return to the roots of the old and also in many ways a season of new beginnings,'' Ackerman said. “That what makes it so incredibly exciting.

“And I can tell you that our schools are intensely committed to basketball success.''

Five teams from the league advanced to NCAA tournament play last season, although Creighton did so as a member of the Missouri Valley and Butler advanced from the Atlantic 10.

“Our sights are set equally high or higher this year and beyond,'' Ackerman said.

At the same time, she said she is aware that the league will be under great scrutiny in the coming months.

“There is no doubt the eyes of the basketball world and the eyes of other sports are on our league,'' she said. “I think everyone in our league uses that as a source of motivation. Our presidents wouldn't have done this and created a new conference from scratch if they didn't have high hopes.

“Fox Sports wouldn't have made an amazing commitment toward our league if they didn't have faith in what we can accomplish. The pressure is there for sure, but I think the likelihood for a great outcome is very, very high. We're going to get it done.''

Contact the writer: Steven Pivovar    |   402-679-2298    |  

Steven Pivovar is a staff writer for The Omaha World-Herald and primarily covers Creighton athletics and the College World Series.



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