Oct. 16, 2013
by Richard Finn
NEW YORK - This summer Val Ackerman delivered a powerful "white paper" report on college women's basketball and possible paths forward to grow the game.
A major "jolt" is needed to spark continued growth reported Ackerman, who was the first President of the Women's National Basketball Association, including proposed format changes in the NCAA tournament, the introduction of a 24-second shot clock and the implementation of 4-10 minute quarters instead of two halves.
On Wednesday at BIG EAST media day for women's basketball at Chelsea Piers, and in her first speech as commissioner of the league, Ackerman confirmed her support for the continued expansion of the game and stressed the hard work still ahead for everybody.
"I don't have the answers for you of what will come out of the report," said Ackerman. "I think there is a lot of room here for some very good dialogue about what can be done to keep women's basketball moving forward."
"It is my hope that the BIG EAST will be actively engaged in the process. We can do more and I think the league can make its mark, whether it is rule development or rule changes or how the game is marketed and promoted," said Ackerman.
The consensus in the room was that there was no stronger visionary and passionate leader to guide the BIG EAST through the coming years and to greater heights than Ackerman.
"From the beginning I have been around all types of people and Val listening to you today you showed a lot of the qualities that Dave (Gavitt) used to talk about, "said Villanova coach Harry Perretta, who after 35 years with the Wildcats also holds the title of Dean of the BIG EAST coaching fraternity.
"What I got today was a person who was genuinely interested in all of the teams in the league, a person who is willing to listen to what people have to say and give it proper attention. And also a person who has a vision and even thinks outside of the box," said Perretta of Ackerman.
The DePaul Blue Demons, coming off a 21-12 record and 9-7 in conference season that featured an at-large bid NCAA tournament appearance, were tabbed as the preseason favorite in the women's coaches' poll with newcomer Creighton finishing in second place.
But nobody in the room, beginning with DePaul coach Doug Bruno, was giving the league crown to the Blue Demons before the conference tournament, which will be held for the first time at the Allstate Arena in Chicago, March 8-11.
"We are going to be a great league," said Bruno. "We have a great competitive, top to bottom 10 basketball teams, and that is why we are going to step forward and accept the torch that has been passed to us to continue to make the BIG EAST what the BIG EAST is meant to be become."