Well, this will cause some tremors in college sports over the next couple of years. Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese has announced that he will retire in June 2009.
"I am stepping down at this point because I believe it is the right time," added Tranghese. "The Conference is in great shape and it will give my successor the best opportunity to be successful."
Tranghese will have been the Big East Commissioner for 19 years when he steps down. He was the first employee of the Big East conference, the second Big East commissioner.
He was also the force that managed to keep the conference intact and a full member of the BCS after Miami, Boston College and Virginia Tech left for the ACC. He prevented the conference from splitting into two conferences -- football schools and basketball schools -- by refusing to choose one over the other.
The football schools needed him because he had the connections and relationships with the other conferences and their commissioners to stay in the BCS. His expansion of the conference into 8 basketball schools (this includes Notre Dame) and 8 football schools. Has surprisingly worked to this point.
The basketball conference, while over sized and causing much teeth-gnashing by the coaches over the toughness has worked. Football, while at least one member short, has actually been much more respectable and better than expected. Both sides are safe economically in the short-term. Something that seemed unlikely 4 years ago.
That doesn't mean there aren't huge issues looming. The 16 Big East teams are still together in no small part because of a formal agreement not to split. That expires in 2010, and will not be extended in any binding manner.
In partnership with NBC Sports Philadelphia
Tranghese is giving the conference a year's notice, in part, because it won't be easy to find a commissioner that will be welcomed strongly by both interests. It actually makes it more likely that the school and conference will hire from within the conference ranks. Someone who already knows everyone and can stroke both sides. Lots of issues will be looming for the next commissioner
The football schools are in need of at least a 9th member to provide balance and another game. Given the costs, it is harder and harder to schedule 5 non-conference games each season. (Notre Dame isn't about to give up it's football independence.) The basketball schools surely don't want a 17th member in basketball and definitely don't want to see the conference tilt further to the football interests (something they already feel has happened).
Forget about rumored "associate" members. Both sides remember Temple all too well.
Then there's the free-floating anxiety over the Big Ten finally letting go of Notre Dame dreams and going to 12 members with Rutgers, Syracuse or Pitt. Or the latest idea that the SEC would actually expand to create a super conference with 2-4 members. Short-term stability may be present, but not long-term.
Sixteen members in all other major sports is too many, and creates higher costs for the member schools in travel budgets. It also reduces the money available to each in basketball when divided that many ways. Which is another reason against further members.
The next commissioner is almost certainly going to deal with a conference split between the 2010 and the end of the Big East TV contract in 2013.