John Marinatto has resigned from his position as Commissioner of the Big East Conference, apparently encouraged by the college presidents to leave.

Now there’s a move sure to undermine any remaining confidence in the conference’s future. The person charged with bringing order to a chaotic situation is dismissed half way through the process? Why would the college presidents want to blow everything up when the conference appeared to be making progress despite all the challenges facing Marinatto?

The Commissioner he succeeded gave credit Monday to Marinatto for saving the league after Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College departed in 2005. Mike Tranghese told the New York Times that while he was focused on dissolving the conference, Marinatto was developing a plan to save it. And despite many obstacles, he had sealed deals with eight new universities during his most recent round of conference realignment.


One distinct possibility is that the time may have finally arrived for a split between the football and basketball schools. The Big East has always been dominated by basketball schools in a landscape owned by college football, making it impossible for the league to position itself among the football power conferences. The football schools have little in common with the basketball schools anyway. Why hang with schools who are holding them back?

The college presidents may have finally concluded that the marriage was never a good arrangement and that the relationship is counter productive and not worth saving. Bring in some fresh thinking, hire someone not committed to the past.

One also has to suspect that Notre Dame played a key role in the decision to let Marinatto go. The Big East has rarely made a decision without the South Bend school asserting its influence. Maybe Notre Dame has decided that its arrangement with the conference is no longer tenable. A new commissioner would be free of the Notre Dame handcuffs.

The inescapable question is how his departure will affect Louisville, which has played an active role in helping to stabilize the conference. Marinatto no doubt played a role in getting UofL into the Big East and had to be appreciative of Tom Jurich’s commitment. Louisville may have even decided wait for an opportunity to join the Big 12 to help preserve the current conference.

But U of L deserves better than what is happening with the Big East.

The best possible situation would be that the rumors are true, that UofL, along with Brigham Young, is about to receive an invitation to join the Big 12. And possibly Notre Dame would join the Big 12 for all other sports than football.

That would be the most optimistic scenario in light of Marinatto’s resignation.

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By Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

19 thoughts on “Marinatto resignation may signal new direction for Big East, Notre Dame and Louisville”
  1. I hope WVU does everything in its power to keep your scumbag lying classless fans away from the Big XII. The Big XII deserves so much more than your awful university. Clemson and Florida State, hell I’d take Cincy over Papa Johns University!

  2. Hahaha “passed up an opportunity to join the Big 12”. UL is right where it belongs, in this C-USA 2.0

  3. As a West Virginia fan who has enjoyed the Louisville rivalry, I hope your scenario is right on. This is one series that deserves to be continued. You had respect from WVU fans from the start.

    1. I’m also a West Virginia fan who wants Louisville in the Big 12. Your inclusion only makes sense. The sooner the better.

  4. Big 12 needs to get moving. Procrastination and indecision was what doomed the Big East. That and basketball.

  5. How does/did the revenue sharing of the football money work in the BE? Did the basketball only schools get a cut? If so what %?

    1. Here’s how Andrea Adelson addressed the question in her most recent ESPN column:

      “One of the biggest stumbling points has been how the television money would be divided among the basketball and football schools. Last year, at the spring meetings in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., one proposal suggested a 75/25 split — 75 percent of the money going to football schools, and 25 percent going to basketball schools. One athletic director at a basketball school raised his hand and wondered why the numbers were not flipped, since hoops is the reason the Big East exists in the first place.”

  6. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Marinatto last year. Really nice and approachable guy. He got dealt a bad hand with all this nonsense and faced an impossible challenge of saving a doomed Big East and unfortunately, somebody has to take the fall.

  7. One clue may come in thinking about the relationship he, and by extension, the BE, has with the rest of the Big Six. It’s no accident that the playoff proposals are designed in a way that will likely leave the BE out almost every year and that by eliminating automatic qualification they no longer have to deal with the BE getting a BCS bid they feel it doesn’t deserve. Supposedly, from observers of the dynamic among the commissioners, he treated Delaney with awe rather than as a colleague and adversary. I’m sure it was no better with Slive.

    He deserves some credit for bringing the new members but that skips over his inaction in the months before Syracuse and Pitt left not to mention WVU. It’s his inability to proactively address that issue much less the football/basketball split that pushed the presidents. The real question is why did it take so long. It should have happened immediately after the ‘Cuse and Pitt announcement.

    1. Your summation makes good sense,sportsbiz. Probably too many college presidents for Syracuse and Pitt to deal with if they had concluded Marinatto was incapable of taking the right steps. I’m wondering if the presidents are even capable of splitting up the league now.

  8. At the end of the day, the bottom line is, if Louisville does not get out of the Big East, our football is in deep doodoo!

  9. I would assume that the presidents of the BIG EAST football schools were getting tired of getting their tails kicked when it came to “raiding” vs. “getting raided”.

    1. Well, if you aren’t quite sure ask the top dogs at Pitt, Syracuse, and WVU. And add UConn as your fourth phone call.

      1. Only if I can talk to Boeheim, Huggins, Calhoun and Dixon….C.B.

        Honestly, I’m not sure who coaches football at any of the four anymore. Each has had changes on the gridiron lately.

        And, while I’m at it…I’ll probably give Mick Cronin a call at U.C. Just so he doesn’t feel slighted. Gotta love the Mickster…

  10. If Louisville were to be placed into the Big 12 it would open a huge range of possibilities for them. More national recognition, more revenue from advertisements and endorsements. Also they would be contending with some of the top teams in the country; Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State just to name a few. By playing these big teams it would truly give Louisville a chance to improve their skill dramatically. As someone once told me, “The only way you can get better, is to play someone better than you.”

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