The Big East has officially named its new commissioner and much to the chagrin of Rick Pitino, it’s not ESPN analyst Jay Bilas. Instead, the conference chose to go in a completely different (and in my opinion brilliant) direction as they chose to hire CBS Sports Vice President Mike Aresco. CBS has essentially cornered the market on sports reporting for the last two years and have hit homeruns across the board hiring college guys like Jeff Goodman and Brett McMurphy to round out an already-strong stable of writers. Then there’s the network’s involvement in both college football and college basketball in which they own a prime piece of real estate that features the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, weekly top college football games as well as an entire cable network devoted to sports. They’ve typically been a forward-thinking network that has perpetually been ahead of the curve, which is something sorely lacking in the previous regime. The move to hire Aresco comes in conjunction with the fact that the Big East announced last week that it had hired keen network negotiator Chris Bevilacqua to seek out their new TV deal. Bevilacqua was the man behind the Pac-12 landing a Billion Dollar deal that will net each team in the conference nearly $20 million a year. Of course most Louisville fans still believe that the best landing spot for them will be the Big 12 at some point down the line. However, if the program remains handcuffed by the Big East, it’s at least somewhat refreshing to know that there’s now a capable leader in place to guide the conference into uncharted territory.
Here’s Aresco’s bio courtesy of CBS Sports.
Michael L. Aresco was named Executive Vice President, Programming in June 2008 after having been Senior Vice President, Programming, since 2000. In his new expanded role, Aresco is responsible for all college programming for both CBS Sports and CBS College Sports Network. He also continues to help shape the strategy for growing CBS College Sports Network.
Aresco joined CBS Sports as Vice President, Programming, in August 1996 and was promoted to Senior Vice President in 2000. He is responsible for managing the division’s college sports properties, including contract negotiations and future acquisitions for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, regular season college basketball and football, and bowl games. He is also responsible for administering the Network’s various NCAA properties including internet, marketing, radio, licensing, publishing and outdoor programming.
Aresco was instrumental in the CBS Television Network’s landmark agreement with the NCAA granting CBS exclusive rights to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship through 2013. He also played a key role in negotiating the marketing agreement that coincided with the NCAA deal, and in the evolution and development of various new media platforms for the NCAA Tournament, including March Madness on Demand (MMOD), CBS’s highly successful Tournament streaming platform, and Video on Demand (VOD) applications. Aresco has also negotiated several agreements with DirecTV to show NCAA Tournament games on an out-of-market basis. He has played an active role in coordinating CBS content with CBS College Sports Network’s various video streaming packages, and also authored a high school sports initiative that led to CBS’s purchase of MaxPreps, the leading website devoted to high school sports.
In addition, Aresco recently negotiated the Network’s historic 15-year Southeastern Conference agreement to televise SEC football and basketball. This agreement also provides multiple new media rights for CBS, CBS College Sports Network and CBS Interactive. He has reached several agreements with the Big Ten Conference for college basketball as well as Big Ten product for CBS College Sports Network. Aresco also reached a multi-year agreement that expanded CBS Sports’ Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) basketball coverage and has negotiated several basketball deals with the Big East, Pac 10 (through Fox Sports Network) and the Big 12 (through ESPN Regional). He also reached multi-year agreements granting CBS exclusive rights to televise the Army-Navy and Notre Dame-Navy football games, as well as the Sun and Gator Bowls. He recently negotiated a 10-year extension to CBS’s Army-Navy football game agreement and was instrumental in the Academies’ decision to move the game a week later where it will be the concluding game of the college football regular season. He also recently negotiated an extension of CBS’s Notre Dame-Navy football game agreement through 2016 with an option through 2018 and assisted in negotiating the CBS College Sports Network-Navy football agreement through 2018. In 2005, CBS acquired CSTV, an independent cable sports network. In January 2008, CBS Sports began to integrate CSTV’s operations with its own and, in March 2008, CSTV became the CBS College Sports Network. Aresco oversees the CBS College Sports Network’s programming department, spearheading program planning and development, as well as working with conference rights holders on contract negotiations and future acquisitions. He sits on the Board of the mtn., the Denver-based regional sports network devoted to the Mountain West Conference and jointly owned by CBS and Comcast.