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Big East commissioner John Marinatto steps down

| Monday, May 7, 2012, 1:02 p.m.
In a file photo, Big East Commissioner John Marinatto speaks to reporters during Big East football media day in Newport, R.I. Marinatto resigned Monday, May 7, 2012, after less than three years on the job and a wave of departures by high-profile schools. (AP Photo/Stew Milne, File)

John Marinatto resigned Monday after three years as Big East commissioner, leaving behind a tenure of conference instability and reconstruction.

Marinatto said he resigned, but CBSSports.com, citing a source, said he was asked to leave his post.

“After a great deal of thought and prayer, I have decided to step down as commissioner of the Big East Conference and formally advised our Board of Directors,” Marinatto said in a statement released by the conference. “I have been associated with this league for my entire adult life and have had the tremendous honor of serving as its commissioner since 2009.

“Our recent expansion efforts have stabilized the conference for the long term, and we are likewise well positioned for our very important upcoming television negotiations. As a result, I felt this was the right time to step aside and to let someone else lead us through the next chapter of our evolution.

“I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish and would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank both our membership and my staff for their unwavering encouragement, support and loyalty — especially during this past year. I am extremely confident about the future of this league that I love very much.”

Marinatto, the third Big East commissioner following founder Dave Gavitt and Mike Tranghese, led the Big East through the past turbulent year, when Pitt and Syracuse announced plans to join the ACC, and West Virginia departed, triggering dueling lawsuits from the school and the conference. Finally, a $20 million settlement was reached in which West Virginia will leave after the current academic year and begin play in the Big 12 in the fall.

The league has regrouped, adding Temple this year to replace West Virginia, with Boise State, San Diego State, SMU, Central Florida, Houston and Memphis joining in 2013. Navy will become a Big East member in 2015.

Pitt and West Virginia officials declined comment on Marinatto's resignation.

“I know I speak for the entire Conference when I express my sincere gratitude to John for his leadership and dedicated years of service,” said Dr. Judy Genshaft, President of the University of South Florida and Chair of the Big East Conference. “John helped build the Big East into what it is today and played a critical role in our successful expansion efforts, and for all of that we thank him.”

With the Big East scheduled to open multimillion dollar contract negotiations in September with several TV networks, Joseph A. Bailey III assumed the position of interim commissioner.

Bailey has served as the chief executive officer of the Miami Dolphins, chief operating officer of the World League/NFL, vice president of administration of the Dallas Cowboys and other senior positions.

Most recently, he served as the managing director of RSR Partners, a leading executive recruiting firm.

“Joe is a proven leader who will do a terrific job guiding the conference through this time of transition,” Genshaft said. “His experience as a manager and his knowledge of the sports industry make Joe uniquely qualified to serve as interim commissioner. He will move the conference forward with a steady hand as we explore new opportunities.”

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jdipaola@tribweb.com or 412-320-7997.

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