Big East Commissioner John Marinatto resigned Monday after less than three years on the job and a wave of departures by high-profile schools.
Pittsburgh and Syracuse made plans to leave for the Atlantic Coast Conference in September, and West Virginia bolted for the Big 12 the following month. The Big East regrouped by adding Central Florida, Houston, Memphis, SMU and Temple for all sports and Boise State, San Diego State and Navy for football only.
"Our recent expansion efforts have stabilized the conference for the long term, and we are likewise well positioned for our very important upcoming television negotiations," Marinatto said in a statement from the conference. "As a result, I felt this was the right time to step aside and to let someone else lead us through the next chapter of our evolution."
The news caught some member schools by surprise.
Connecticut Athletic Director Warde Manuel said he was shocked to learn of the resignation Monday, but said it will not affect his school’s affiliation with the Big East.
"Our relationship is with the conference, and we’ll look forward to working with the leadership in the conference to move forward," Manuel said.
Connecticut provided Marinatto with some of the conferences biggest moments during his tenure, winning national championships in men’s basketball in 2011 and in women’s basketball in 2009 and 2010.
But UConn had been actively exploring the possibility of joining the Atlantic Coast Conference or another conference after the moves by Syracuse and Pittsburgh.
Manuel said Monday that UConn has no current plans to leave.
"I’m happy in the Big East," he said. "That’s where we’re going to stay and compete and do what we do."
Former Miami Dolphins CEO Joseph Bailey III will serve as interim commissioner. The search for a permanent replacement will be chaired Gregory Williams, the president of the University of Cincinnati and a member of the Big East executive committee.
Marinatto became the third commissioner of the Big East on July 1, 2009. He had served as the conference’s senior associate commissioner since 2002 and spent 14 years as the athletic director at Providence College.
"John helped build the Big East into what it is today, and played a critical role in our successful expansion efforts, and for all of that we thank him," said Judy Genshaft, President of the University of South Florida and the chair of the conference.
"I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish and would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank both our membership and my staff for their unwavering encouragement, support and loyalty — especially during this past year," he said. "I am extremely confident about the future of this league that I love very much."
The conference also announced it had retained The Boston Consulting Group to review its organizational design and structure.