The college basketball landscape has changed, and Red Storm fans
have reason to be excited.
In March, St. John’s University, along with DePaul University,
Georgetown University, Marquette University, Providence College,
Seton Hall University and Villanova University, announced the
formation of a new BIG EAST Conference – a league that would honor
the rich basketball tradition upon which the BIG EAST was
The new conference, which retains the BIG EAST name and will play
its season-ending BIG EAST Championship at Madison Square Garden,
officially commenced operations on July 1, 2013. Val Ackerman,
former President of the Women’s National Basketball Association
(WNBA), was selected as the league’s first commissioner.
“This is an exciting time for the University,” said St. John’s
President Rev. Donald J. Harrington, C.M. in an official statement,
“as we look ahead to a promising new foundation – one that will
combine elite competition with a continued emphasis on
At a press conference in Manhattan, the new BIG EAST announced a
landmark 12-year partnership with FOX Sports, granting the network
exclusive media rights. Additionally, the league formally added
Butler University, Creighton University and Xavier University,
bringing its total membership to 10.
Each of the inaugural members will serve as full conference
participants starting this fall in the 2013-14 academic year.
“We applaud all the BIG EAST schools for taking responsibility for
their own destiny,” said Randy Freer, FOX Sports President and
Chief Operating Officer, “and forming what is clearly one of the
top college basketball leagues in the country.”
The original BIG EAST Conference was founded in 1979, primarily the
brainchild of Dave Gavitt, who also served as the conference’s
first commissioner. St. John’s and iconic Men’s Basketball Head
Coach Lou Carnesecca ’50C, ’60G, ’00HON played a pivotal role in
putting the league on the map and cementing it as a powerhouse in
The new BIG EAST retains many of the old conference’s storied
rivalries and is poised to become a preeminent player on the
collegiate scene. Retaining the BIG EAST name and playing its
conference tournament at Madison Square Garden – the home court of
the Johnnies – are also major achievements.
“We are thrilled that MSG will continue to serve as the official
home of the BIG EAST Championship tournament,” said Fr. Harrington.
“In addition to being the center of the basketball universe, the
Garden has served as a thrilling backdrop for so many of the BIG
EAST's most enduring memories and greatest individual
Red Storm fans will now be able to watch the Johnnies take on
current powerhouses like Butler and Xavier, while still maintaining
rivalries with the likes of Georgetown and Villanova. Ultimately,
it’s a solid foundation that many coaches – including St. John’s
own Men’s Basketball Head Coach Steve Lavin – are excited to
“When you look at this group of schools, they all have fan bases
that have real conviction in terms of their loyalty,” Lavin said.
“That’s one of the reasons the presidents moved in this direction.
They felt it would provide a brighter future for the conference and
the respective basketball programs, and I agree with