Interim Commissioner Joe Bailey Speaks With The Media

Joe Bailey, Interim Commissioner of the BIG EAST Conference, held his first teleconference with the national media Wednesday afternoon, discussing a range of issues relative to the conference and college athletics.
 
The archived audio of the teleconference is available on BIGEAST.TV.
 
 
JOE BAILEY:  Thank you very much, and thank you, everyone on the line for dialing in. 
 
I think that what I'd like to say to you, number one, is that during the time that I'm going to be in this role, I think part of the responsibilities of the role is to keep people informed about what's going on with the BIG EAST Conference as we make this transition. 
 
So I was talking to John this morning about having this quite often, this type of session quite often.  So we want to be as transparent, open and honest with you people that are really interested in the BIG EAST, because it is going through some significant changes.  And certainly from my perspective anyway, anybody who says change, they all anticipate for the better. 
 
With that, I'd be more than happy to answer any questions that you have. 
 
I must tell you that I've been well trained and well prepared for this, because for five years when I was down with the Dolphins; I did a two hour call in radio show with Jimmy Cefalo; and if you can do that for five years, then at least I'll have some experience about answering some questions. 
With that, please feel free to ask any question you would like. 
 
Q.  Just to ask a question on a positive note so I can hear the sound of your voice, you had a lot of schools leave but now you have new schools coming in.  Does the league look to take the approach, we're happy to have who we have and let's move forward with a new plan, especially in football? 
 
JOE BAILEY:  Well, I don't think that I'd like to sort of isolate it just to football. 
 
I can tell you that one of the things that's really intriguing about the situation here is that there's an enormous amount of diversity within the conference, and diversity is a good thing. 
 
I just finished on a Diversity Inclusion Committee for the United States Olympic Committee, and one of the things that you find out is that with different points of view, you have a much richer discussion, many more interests that make the entire community a lot better. 
 
I think that the way I view this is that with any of the schools, whether the schools or the institutions have been in the conference for a long time as original founding members, or institutions that have joined, and then also the most recent institutions, as well, they all sort of think in terms of being in a community.  As long as the individual institutions feel well and feel good about the community; as long as the community holds them in high regard, and as long as the community is respected on a national and maybe even an international basis, then that in and of itself is a good sign. 
 
So from what I've heard and from the presidents and some of the ADs I've talked to, and certainly in my role answering to the executive committee, I've heard that people are obviously very enthusiastic, number one, about the BIG EAST. 
 
Number two, they're very enthusiastic about the individuals that are being brought in to look at the BIG EAST in terms of the strategy behind it going forward, and sort of the fundamentals of the foundations of the BIG EAST itself. 
 
So I've heard nothing but positives to be quite candid with you internally.  And I can also tell you that on day three that I've been on the board; that I've spent all this time here at the conference headquarters and have been enormously impressed by the people that have been here and been so dedicated and made this institution what it is today. 
 
Q.  What will your role be in the negotiations for a new television contract? 
 
JOE BAILEY:  I would anticipate that I would not have a role in the negotiations themselves.  I'll probably be informed of how they go. 
 
I think the executive committee has made a decision that they will retain a consultant to do those, and they will in turn report to the executive committee, and I'll be a part of that reporting process. 
 
But I probably will not have any strategic role in the negotiations themselves. 
 
Q.  Do you know a time frame of when that might occur?  Is it the fall?  Is it late summer? 
 
JOE BAILEY:   Yeah, my understanding is it'll be in the fall.  And there's some flexibility as far as the window is concerned, both from the entities that would like to chat with the BIG EAST and also from the BIG EAST itself. 
 
I think that from our perspective, we'll probably have a number of interested parties, just simply because of what the BIG EAST represents.  And I would expect that on balance, whatever the results are going to be, are going to be awfully positive for the entire conference. 
 
Q.  And a quick follow, since the reported change in the BCS status for two years' time, what's the level of commitment from Boise State and San Diego State to continue the role they've committed to in football a year from now? 
 
JOE BAILEY:   Well, my sense is that unless you hear differently, I think that there's full commitment from their standpoint. 
 
You can't    there's an expectation market, and then there's the reality market.  And the reality of it is is that those schools have indicated, to my knowledge, to the executive committee and to the other members, that they have a big belief that the BIG EAST is a really good partner for them. 
 
And when you think about it for a second, this is what this really is.  You've got 18 institutions that are really partners; so it's not just one institution, but it's all institutions pulling together. 
 
Q.  The resignation by Commissioner Marinatto a couple days ago led to speculation, particularly among some of the major northeastern papers, that we would be leaning toward a split in the conference between those that are basketball first and those that are football first, so to speak, including some speculation from one of the former commissioners.  And I wanted to see what you thought of that possibility as you stand in the place that you do today. 
 
JOE BAILEY:  Yeah, I have a particular position on speculation versus reality. 
 
People that are stock brokers, stock pickers, people that pick games, things of that nature, are all spectators.  They're in the expectation market. 
 
We, the people that operate entities, enterprises, not for profits, et cetera, should operate them based on the real marketplace, the reality of the situation. 
 
The reality of the situation is that there has been no indication from anybody that I have talked to    and again, I haven't talked to everybody, but from anybody that I've talked to, I've talked to quite a number of people that there's any kind of    even close to this idea of any kind of split. 
 
Q.  Do you still expect Syracuse and Pittsburgh to leave the league after the next basketball season in 2013?  And is there any chance that those schools might be persuaded to stay in the league, or is there any legal recourse to try to keep them in the league going forward?  Will you try to do that? 
 
JOE BAILEY:  Well, the answer is, I wish I could see around corners, but I can't.  So really, I would not want to in any way speculate on what's going to happen with regards to those schools either way.  It's really in one sense not my position to sort of think that way. 
 
I think that you have to recognize that my role is this transition role and transformational role preparing this particular position for another person, and that part of that is to help that individual transition into the role and the responsibilities and understand all of the different dynamics of the conference itself. 
 
But as to those specific kinds of questions like that, that's not    that really isn't    I can't do it because I'm not smart enough, I think. 
 
Q.  If I could just follow up, Commissioner Marinatto said at the BIG EAST Tournament that he expected both schools to be freed to leave in 2013.  Do we have reason to believe that's changed at all? 
 
JOE BAILEY:  Well, since I wasn't there, and honestly until    well, because I wasn't there, et cetera, I really couldn't    I can't answer that question.  I simply can't answer it.  I wish I could, but I cannot. 
 
Q.  Actually I was just going to ask a very similar question about Pitt and Syracuse, so I guess I'll ask, do you anticipate when those discussions might be revisited about when those schools might be able to leave the conference? 
 
JOE BAILEY:  I don't think I've been here long enough to give you an educated answer on that one.  I really don't. 
 
But when we talk maybe next week or the week after or on a weekly basis perhaps, then I'll have a better feel for it.  But right now I really just don't have a feel for that. 
 
Q.  Actually two quick ones for you:  One is do you have any interest in becoming the full time commissioner?  And secondly, as to expansion, do you feel that there is the possibility of expanding even further beyond what the BIG EAST has done thus far? 
 
JOE BAILEY:  Well, the answer to the first one is a no with an exclamation point.  And one of the reasons is not so much that I wouldn't be interested in either the content of the work or the people that you would be working with or either personal or professional growth, because I think all of those are going to be here for this particular person. 
 
But I am too senior, and it's my feeling that the leader of the conference should be the leader for a long period of time; and therefore, has a long runway on which to build the conference and be a part of the fabric of the conference.  So I would not be a good candidate for that reason. 
 
And my only wish, of course, is that I wish I was 20 years younger because I think it's a fabulous, fabulous opportunity, not only because of the institutions that the conference represents but because of what's happening in sport on a global basis. 
 
Sport is, in fact, considered real serious and consequential for a whole different group of reasons.  It's very important from an education standpoint, et cetera, and also on a global basis.
 
So the industry of sport itself is going to be enormously, enormously important globally.  And if you don't think so, all you have to do is tune into the Olympics this London this summer.  It's going to be one of the great events in history, really. 
 
But no, I'm not a candidate. 
 
Q.  And the second part of the question was having to do with the possibility of further expansion. 
 
JOE BAILEY:  Oh, expansion.  Well, expansion rests with the membership.  I don't think that I've been here long enough to really reflect the feeling of the membership. 
 
Maybe a little bit later on, I'd have a better sense of it all, but I don't know that I've    expansion hasn't at least crossed my wavelength right this second, so I don't think I can answer it right now. 
 
Q.  I was just wondering what your role is going to be in terms of the BCS discussions and trying to make sure the BIG EAST retains its spot as one of the top revenue generators from the BCS in a future playoff. 
 
JOE BAILEY:  Although I haven't had specific discussions about that, obviously the BIG EAST is awfully proud of being a founding member of the BCS, will not lose its influence in those decisions. 
 
We've got a meeting coming up in a couple of weeks, et cetera, and a lot of those things are going to be discussed then. 
 
But there's no question that the BIG EAST is going to be an integral part of whatever the decision is going forward. 
 
Q.  If I could ask one more, why did you decide to take this role? 
 
JOE BAILEY:  Well, I decided, number one, because I think that the BIG EAST is a valued institution.  It's got great core values.  I think that the institutions themselves are awfully important to the country. 
 
I think that sport is important to the whole educational system.  I'm on a leadership and ethics think tank at Duke's business school, and we talk constantly about the importance of sport. 
 
I think that the people that have built the BIG EAST have been fabulous people.  It's a great place    it's got a great legacy to it, and I almost look at it in one sense as a bit of a public service; that anything I can do to help an institution that is as important to people and to communities as this one is, anything I can    at the end of the day, I just said anything I can do to help, I'm happy to do it. 
 
And secondly, I've been around for an awfully long time, and part of my role here is to perhaps impart anything that I've seen during the course of the 40 some odd years I've been in the industry that might improve peak performance, et cetera, from individuals and collectively from the whole, I'm happy to do. 
 
Q.  Can you explain why the BIG EAST would not be diminished in its role in determining the BCS playoff system and why the member institutions should feel confident that they will have as big a say as other conferences in what happens here? 
 
JOE BAILEY:  Well, unless I'm mistaken, everybody has got a vote, and their vote is    I mean, the BIG EAST vote is like any other member's vote; it's the same.  And you've got to be at the table where the BIG EAST is at the table. 
 
Q.  Can you describe the timetable for getting a permanent commissioner in place, and is that at all driven by the changes in the BCS or by the television negotiations? 
JOE BAILEY:  Well, the process for a search for the commissioner has begun from the standpoint there has been a search committee that has been formed.  And that search committee will then begin to probably create a request for proposal and invite executive search firms to answer the RFP. 
 
And then based on that, normally what happens is they'll select X number, three, four; they'll come in and make presentations, and ultimately make the decision of the search firm that will ultimately conduct the search. 
 
Searches, generally speaking, if one goes very, very smoothly, will take from start to finish approximately three months. 
 
We have one issue here, and that is we extend ourselves into August, and August is a tough month to get meetings and people together, to be candid with you.  This is pure    just based on my knowledge of being in this industry for I think 11 or 12 years now in terms of the    I'm with RSR Partners, which is a governance and leadership consulting and executive search firm, and because of that, we've got a fairly decent sense of what the timing will be. 
 
So I would say to you, three, four months, something like that. 
 
Q.  Whether it's accurate or not, I think there's a perception out there that the BIG EAST might be unraveling a bit or in a bit of disarray.  What short term things do you see out there that you can do to perhaps refute that image or to strengthen the perception of the BIG EAST on a national scale? 
JOE BAILEY:  Well, I think, number one, as far as perceptions are concerned, it's very clear that the executive committee and the membership have made decisions about retaining really, really well respected strategy management consultants like Boston Consulting Group, Score Media for media, and others, to really evaluate in order to reframe, refocus, set the tone and move forward. 
 
So that in and of itself should send an enormous and very strong message to the marketplace that the BIG EAST is very, very focused on making sure that the perception out there isn't what you just described. 
 
And in fact, it isn't.  I can tell you just from being in the meetings that I've been in, it's not at all.  It's a very cohesive, very focused group. 
 
And in terms of what we can do internally with all the stakeholders is simply to continue to send a message that this is exactly what is taking place. 
 
So it's a bit of really good communications internally along with very good communications externally. 
 
Q.  Who found you?  Was it an existing president as has been reported in some spots?  And also, with your background in the NFL with both the Dolphins, and I believe the Cowboys, can you talk about what you see as the TV marketability of the BIG EAST going forward? 
JOE BAILEY:  Well, I'll take the latter one first, and that is just based on the landscape of what everyone has seen.  It's not as though it's a secret just to us; it's obviously very apparent that there is a market demand for what I would term, or what we'd term in sport, anyway, authentic content.  And that's sort of the difference between entertainment and sport.  Sport is authentic.  No one really knows what the outcome is going to be; entertainment is contrived, et cetera. 
 
But nevertheless, there is a demand for that.  And it's also the reason why sport on a global basis and the rights fees for all different kinds of sports, whether it's rugby or soccer or cricket or any of them, the over 200 sports that are mainstream sports in the world, why they're all in demand in terms of the media. 
 
So I think that on balance, that's a good thing as far as the BIG EAST is concerned, so that's that one. 
 
As far as how did they find me, well, I've done work, not a lot of work, but just a little bit of work, with colleges. 
 
But I've been in the football and professional sports business for a long period of time, over 40 years, and I do know some people.  But haven't spent most of my career in college sports. 
 
I will tell you that my first position with the Dallas Cowboys is that I was a scout.  So I spent 310 days out of 365 days on the road scouting college players.  So that was    and I was down there at University of North Carolina playing football and baseball. 
 
So I have had exposure and have had a great deal of respect for sport and the institution of sport within the college system. 
 
Q.  It's just come out that the ACC TV deal is $17 million, and obviously the Big 12 deal just came out.  What is the expectation market for the league and its new members in particular?  And is that close to what maybe the reality market is going to be for those rights? 
JOE BAILEY:  Right.  Well, the answer is I can't tell you what the expectation market is, because that's exactly what that is, is expectations.  You can drive yourself nuts if you try and manage anything by what the expectation market is. 
 
I think sort of the reality of it is that media rights are increasing, and where it ends up, really I don't think anybody really knows for sure.  But of course the people that will be negotiating the deal on behalf of the BIG EAST ultimately will have that responsibility.  And any kind of deal has got to be fair for both sides. 
 
So not only does it have to be beneficial as far as the BIG EAST is concerned, it's also got to be beneficial as far as these partners are concerned.  You're in it together, because at the end, what you want to do is produce something that is enjoyable to the consumers, and the consumers really are the most    certainly the people that drive the interest in sport and particularly in the BIG EAST. 
 
Q.  And then lastly, has Boise State asked the BIG EAST for any help in placing its non football programs at this point? 
JOE BAILEY:  Not to my knowledge.  Not to my knowledge, no. 
 
Now, believe me, I've been here, what, two days, three days.  So I'm not fully up to speed yet. 
 
I just want to say, again, thanks very much for dialing in.  As I said to you, I'd love to continue this on a regular basis so that you feel as though the BIG EAST is doing its level best to keep you informed in order to be able to keep the people that really sort of follow the BIG EAST that are loyalists to the BIG EAST and all of these various communities really now across the nation.
 
It's awfully important for us to speak with you in as candid a way as we possibly can, and happy to do so either collectively or individually.