NEW YORK — Wednesday morning will see the presidents and athletic directors from the Big East gather in a central location. The guest list will include party crashers in the form of representatives from the schools in line to join the league.
Wouldn’t you like to be a fly in that room?
“I think they’ll introduce some of the new members and [league president John Marinatto] is going to give us an update to where we are on a lot of issues,” Providence College athletic director Driscoll remarked. “It should be a good meeting and I’m looking forward to it.”
Such a cluster of key power players under the same Big Apple roof is very much befitting of “winds of change” aura currently surrounding the Big East. West Virginia is on its way out with Syracuse and Pittsburgh following suit over the next few years. With that mind, this week’s Big East Tournament figures to be remembered as last call for this particular 16-team arrangement that came to be in 2005.
“[The idea of the gang breaking up] is something I don’t talk about a lot because I’m so focused on the people and the same Big East folks who are here,” stated Driscoll prior to Tuesday’s first-round conference tourney game against Seton Hall. “This is a regular tournament for us.
“Next year, everyone will be back with the exception of West Virginia so we’re a couple of years – at least two tournaments away – from the new teams coming in,” Driscoll continued. “Change is part of athletics. Fortunately I think John’s done a good job of keeping things together with some of the basketball schools coming in.”
Driscoll admits that he hasn’t given much thought to the comings and goings that have shaped the Big East in recent months. He did, however, note that the general vibe he’s received from PC fans has changed dramatically since last September’s announcement of Syracuse and Pittsburgh departing for ACC pastures. Naturally, the presence of PC first-year coach Ed Cooley has helped cool any talk surrounding where the Friars fit in down the line.
“People have adapted and they feel confident that the Big East moving forward, even though it’s changing, will be fine,” Driscoll said. “My fans have been focusing on Ed and our program and how we can get better. Whatever the Big East looks like, we want to be one of the premier programs, so let’s focus on that.
“Under a different set of circumstances, if the [Providence] program was where it essentially was at this time last year and add to that what the Big East was going through, I think people would be quite disturbed,” Driscoll added. “I don’t sense that. This is my 11th year [coming to the Big East Tournament as the leader of PC’s athletic department] and this is as good in terms of being around people. That’s a credit to Ed.”
RIM RATTLERS: The Big East is paying tribute to Dave Gavitt, the conference’s first commissioner, this week with an enlarged emblem located on both sides of the court at Madison Square Garden. The fitting acknowledgment reads “DG, Dave Gavitt.” Gavitt passed away last September. … Major awards were handed out Tuesday. In a surprising twist, Marquette’s Jae Crowder received Big East Player of the Year even though Kevin Jones topped the league in both scoring and rebounding. South Florida coach Stan Heath was chosen as Coach of the Year while St. John’s freshman forward Moe Harkless walked away with the Rookie of the Year.