How the Big East of old, shaped the landscape of the future

April 21, 2020




Through the years, college basketball has captivated the hearts of billions across the world, with storylines that cut straight to the heart and traditions that transcend generations. College basketball has also seen a fair share of pioneers who shaped the game into what we know now. 


Arguably, none bigger than Dave Gavitt, who founded the old school Big East, a conference in which that would forever shape the landscape of college basketball. 


When you think of basketball in the Northeast, you automatically think of the old school Big East, the pioneers of the modern game of college basketball. You might even think of the likeness of Chris Mullins, Patrick Ewing, and maybe even Pearl Washington. 


The college basketball we have now is in large part due to what the Big East of old was able to accomplish. 


Dating back to 1979, the Big East has set the standard for conferences across the country. They were the first with their own lucrative TV contract, valued at 300,000 per game, which aired on March 13th, 1980.  In 1983, the Big East Network started mass producing television broadcasts for their fans across the Northeast area. In a time where the sports world was controlled by major networks like NBC, CBS, and ABC. 


The Big East was the first conference to jump at not only the opportunity to have their own network but also be the feature on the eventual media powerhouse in the ESPN network. 


The Big East network set the tone for the future of college athletics on TV. Fast forward to now, and just about every conference has some kind of lucrative deal of their own, a lot of which payout several millions of dollars to every member of the conference. 


When you study the history of college basketball, you soon realize, just how important the foundation of the old school Big East truly was to the sport. The old school Big East, proved to the rest of the world, that college basketball alone was not just run by the blue bloods, it was a sport for the everyday person. No matter the background of the person, the Big East transcended all of that to give an entire forgotten sports region a sense of pride in where they're from. 


When you compare the modern-day college basketball to that of the old school Big East, one thing you will notice will be the diversity that the Big East brought to the table. Whether that was in recruiting, or in the way the game of basketball was played, the Big East in large part is to thank for the game that fans today, now enjoy. 


Lastly, the old school Big East, gave us what we know now as the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden, in New York City. The Big East Tournament has given the college basketball world, a lot of memories that will forever shape how fans view conference tournaments. From multiple overtime games to heartbreaking defeats, the Big East Tournament has lived up to the hype over the years. 


As we prepare for the upcoming 2020-2021 college basketball season, it's important to remember and honor the Big East of old for they did to grow the game of basketball. 

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