The agenda for the new Big East meetings that begin Sunday evening might make an insomniac drowsy.
Meeting piled on top of meeting piled on top of meeting where minutiae and more minutiae will be discussed and debated.
Such is life when you’re part of a start-up conference.
“I don’t know how we’re going to get through all of it by Wednesday,” Creighton Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen said.
Rasmussen, Senior Women’s Administrator Carol Ketcham, men’s basketball coach Greg McDermott and women’s basketball coach Jim Flanery will represent Creighton at the meetings in West Palm Beach, Fla.
It will be the first league-wide meetings for the conference since the announcement two months ago that Creighton, Xavier and Butler were joining seven Catholic universities that broke away from the existing Big East to form the new 10-team conference.
In the interim, administrators and coaches from the schools have spent time on conference calls trying to get their arms around the issues facing the league, which will begin play next season.
Complicating matters is that the presidents have yet to name a commissioner. In turn, no conference staff has been hired.
“That makes this awkward,” Rasmussen said. “Typically, you go to your conference meetings and your commissioner and his staff run it all. We may find out we can do without a commissioner and a conference staff.”
Rasmussen chuckled, paused and added, “That’s why I hate to miss meetings here. They might find out that they could do without me.”
The new Big East hired former Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe as a consultant to help guide it through this interim period.
When asked what will be discussed, Rasmussen pulled out an inch-thick binder and started leafing through the agenda. It includes everything from meetings on conference governance issues and formal bylaws to strategic planning to establishing minimum standards of support for each sport.
Some of the lengthier meetings could come when the administrators dig into each sport to establish the groundwork for the first season.
“We’ll discuss the coaches’ recommendations on scheduling, conference tournaments, the hiring of officials,” Rasmussen said. “We might be able to get through some of the sports fairly quickly, but with others, there will be a lot to be discussed.”
Establishing a championships structure also will be on the table. Rasmussen said coaches in some sports have recommended not to hold a conference tournament, at least in the first season. The administrators will have to look at other sports to determine whether having a league tournament makes financial sense.
“In some of the sports, we have to decide whether it’s going to be at a neutral site or on campus,” he said. “I think we definitely need to balance things out geographically. We also have to decide if there will be an equal sharing of costs.”
In the Missouri Valley, the league that Creighton is leaving, the conference paid for travel expenses for a designated number of participants in each sport.
“That took geography partly out of the mix,” Rasmussen said.
Men’s basketball is the only sport that has a championship site set. The new Big East announced in March that New York’s Madison Square Garden would continue to be the site of the tournament.
That was the easy part. The administrators must now dig into some weighty questions that come with holding the tournament there.
It starts with ticket prices. An all-session ticket to the 2013 Big East tournament cost $440, and single-game tickets were not sold. The old Big East also never required schools to sell a minimum number of tickets.
Rasmussen said he might be in the minority that believes ticket prices should be reduced.
There appears to be some pressure for the new Big East to make sure it nails the details for its marquee event in order to maintain its popularity and profitability. The Atlantic Coast Conference has indicated that it will investigate moving its tournament to Madison Square Garden after current contractual obligations are met in 2015.
The new Big East’s deal with Madison Square Garden runs through 2026, but it’s believed the arena could get out of the contract if the new conference doesn’t reach certain benchmarks.
“We have to make sure we get this right,” Rasmussen said.
Another priority before leaving Florida is to make sure the new league has ironed out the details for sports that compete during the fall.
Rasmussen was asked if he’s feeling frustrated that some of the priority issues facing the conference haven’t already been settled.
“Most good coaches and most good administrators aren’t known for their patience,” he said. “We like answers more than questions, and we just have way too many questions and not enough answers.
“It’s not like we’ve been sitting still. We’ve had a lot of conference calls. We’ve done a lot of the groundwork, but in some ways, you feel like you’re in neutral. We just haven’t had an opportunity to come together and make some decisions.”
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