With the new Big East Conference technically starting on July 1, university presidents want to name a new commissioner. With only a supposed office set to be in New York, zero employees and the rebirth of the league looming, naming the commissioner should have been a top priority months ago. Regardless, it is now being reported that former WNBA president Val Ackerman is a top target for the job.
Ackerman has a slew of history that isn’t really directly tied to college sports. It can be assumed that the Big East wants to go the Pac 12 route — who hired Larry Scott, former head of professional women’s tennis, as their commissioner — and hire someone from outside the realm of collegiate athletics. Although Ackerman does have a background in college sports, it was as a player for the Virginia Cavaliers‘ women’s basketball team and not in any managerial roles.
What she does have — outside the already aforementioned WNBA background — is a law degree, she was the first female president of USA Basketball, and she is widely regarded as a visionary in women’s hoops, which is highlighted in a report in which she provided insight on how the sport can be more viable and increase its popularity.
There has been no new reports since Ackmerman met with some university presidents last week. After the meeting, Ackerman went to Switzerland for an already scheduled meeting with FIBA. The process of vetting her was obviously slowed down by Ackerman needing to meet the prior obligation. Rumblings, however, of university presidents wanting to name the commissioner sooner than later may speed up the process as early as this week.
It has been widely thought that the Big East would have had a commissioner by now. With the transition of the league impending, a TV deal already in place and a prior history set to help build a new legacy, Ackerman may very well be the right choice for the job.
Follow Joseph on Twitter @JosephNardone