The worst-kept secret in sports television was finally unleashed today.
Fox Sports and the new, "reborn" as the network put it, Big East Conference announced a 12-year partnership. The deal will feature regular season basketball and the Big East Tournament, which will remain at Madison Square Garden. The announcement was made at a press event in New York by Big East member presidents and Fox Sports Co-President and COO Randy Freer.
"We applaud all the Big East schools for taking responsibility for their own destiny and forming what is clearly one of the top college basketball leagues in the country," said Freer, whose network will broadcast not only men's basketball, but a select number of games from the conference's women's basketball, lacrosse, and baseball leagues, as well as Olympic sports. The deal is reportedly said to be worth $500 million over 12 years. That number may increase to $600 million, should the conference expand to 12 schools.
"The quality of the competition is obvious," Freer added. "Five teams who will play in the renewed Big East next season are playing in this year's NCAA tournament, and seven qualified for postseason play overall. We're extremely proud and fortunate to offer college basketball of this caliber on FS1 next season and for many seasons to come."
Fox Sports 1, which will launch Aug. 17, is rumored to be reviving the Big East tradition of playing on Monday nights. This comes after the announcement yesterday that ACC games will replace the Big East on ESPN's Big Monday. Fox will also likely sublicense games to ESPN and other networks as part of the deal, though no official names have not been announced yet. Gus Johnson, who hosted the press event, will likely have a big role in broadcasting the new conference, which features returning schools St. John's, Villanova, Georgetown, Seton Hall, Providence, DePaul, Marquette, as well as Xavier, Butler and Creighton, who were announced to join the Big East today.