NCAA: Big East Names Val Ackerman as Commissioner

The new Big East has hired former WNBA president Val Ackerman as its first commissioner.

Jun 26 2013, 9:07pm CDT | by

NCAA: Big East Names Val Ackerman as Commissioner
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The new Big East has hired former WNBA president Val Ackerman as its first commissioner.'s Andy Katz writes Ackerman emerged as the leading candidate in the past few weeks as the Big East looked for a leader in the days before it offiically becomes a new conference on July 1. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, per Katz.

Providence College president Rev. Brian J. Shanley says Ackerman is exactly what the Big East needs.

"The Big East is incredibly fortunate to have Val Ackerman lead us into this exciting new chapter for our conference. Val is exactly what the Big East needs: She embodies the highest personal and professional values of the sports industry, and is a hard-charging and innovative leader who can shepherd the conference to continued success."

Shanley also declared the Big East was drawn to her basketball mind and accomplishing the WNBA as a start-up. 

"We think we've got the best basketball mind in the country at the helm of our basketball-centric conference. We were also drawn to Val because she's done a start-up before - the WNBA. We consider ourselves a little bit of a start-up as we reboot this new Big East."

The announcement of Ackerman's hiring came at the end of a three-month search process, the first major undertaking of the 10 school presidents who make up the new league. Shanley said the 53-year-old Ackerman was "on the radar screen" from the beginning. 

Ackerman was in Switzerland at FIBA meetings this week but is due back stateside this weekend. She said in a statement that she was "honored" to have "this incredible opportunity" and said the conference has a simple mission, per Katz.  

"To continue and enhance the Big East's legacy of intense competition, spirited rivalries and unparalleled achievement not only in college basketball, but in all intercollegiate sports."

USA Today Sports' Nicole Auerbach quotes Ackerman as saying the hard stuff will get done but with a trade-off of no sleep for the first few months. 

"The hard stuff will get done. The worst part is the prospect of no sleep for probably, you tell me, three months?  Six months?  The good news is I'm up for the challenge. I really think there's an extraordinary opportunity here to not only create a model athletic conference but an exciting new basketball organization."

The league, which retained the rights to the Big East name, includes the so-called Catholic 7, whose presidents voted to leave because they said football-related revenue was becoming too important. The Big East started in 1979 with a focus on basketball. 

The holdover schools are Georgetown, St. John's, Villanova, Seton Hall, Providence, Marquette and DePaul. They will be joined by Butler, Creighton and Xavier. 

Ackerman ran the WNBA from 1996 to 2005, when she stepped down. She was a staff attorney for the NBA, and served as the first female president of USA Basketball from 2005 to 2008. 

She's a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame board of trustees. She said the conference would explore international opportunities without being specific. 


Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.


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