July 1, 2024 

BIG EAST notebook: Media rights deal, top transfer talent

Conference's new media rights deal will span from 2025-26 through 2030-31

The BIG EAST announced a new six-year media rights agreement that includes coverage on FOX Sports (FOX, FS1, FS2), NBC Sports (NBC, Peacock) and TNT Sports (TNT, TBS, truTV and Max). The deal will begin for the 2025-26 season and run through the 2030-31 season, providing broadcast, cable and streaming coverage of men’s and women’s basketball.

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“The arrangement will provide enhanced revenue and long-term stability for the conference, create benefits for our student-athletes, and allow us to remain nationally competitive in our marquee sport: basketball,” said Creighton University president and BIG EAST board of directors chair Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD. “We are especially excited to continue our one-of-a-kind relationship with FOX Sports and look forward to building on the exceptional foundation we have established together over the past 11 years.”

BIG EAST women’s basketball coverage will massively grow under this new arrangement. The media rights deal triples BIG EAST women’s basketball coverage compared to its current agreement with FOX. The deal will include 65 regular season games per season and all BIG EAST Tournament games.

“BIG EAST basketball is among the most prestigious in all of college sports, and we’re proud to be able to feature the men’s and women’s teams across our NBCUniversal platforms,” said Rick Cordella, president of NBC Sports. “The BIG EAST has a storied basketball history, and we look forward to showcasing these games as the conference creates more memorable moments.”

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Transfers to track

Perhaps the biggest BIG EAST transfer portal news this offseason is the departure of Villanova guard Lucy Olsen to Iowa. Last season’s third-highest scorer in the nation (23.3 ppg) was an honorable mention All-American by both the WBCA and the Associated Press, a unanimous selection to the BIG EAST first team and the conference’s Most Improved Player. She also claimed Philadelphia Big 5 Player of the Year and Most Improved Player awards.

Olsen will replace Caitlin Clark—last season’s leading scorer (31.6 ppg) and the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer—as Iowa’s point guard. Big shoes to fill, but Olsen is approaching it with maturity and perspective.

“Caitlin Clark is Caitlin Clark. I’m not going to try to be her,” Olsen told the Des Moines Register. “But they need a point guard, and it’s a perfect opportunity to try to make something happen.”

With Olsen’s departure, plenty of talent remains in the conference, including a talented group of transfers who will compete in the conference for the first time. Let’s take a look.

Jade Blagrove

St. John’s head coach Joe Tartamella, 2023 BIG EAST Coach of the Year, has proven in recent seasons that he’s one of the nation’s elite in using the transfer portal for roster construction. Transfers Jayla EverettMimi Reid and Jillian Archer developed under Tartamella’s leadership and proved the coach’s ability to integrate new pieces into the program’s system.

This season Tartamella welcomes another player from the transfer portal that’s expected to contribute right away. Forward Jade Blagrove made the trip from Manhattan College to Queens to join the Red Storm as a graduate transfer. Last season as a senior for the Jaspers, Blagrove averaged career highs in scoring (8.4 ppg) and rebounding (7.1 rpg). She also brings significant experience with the Dutch national team, competing on the U14, U16 and U18 teams.

“We can’t wait to have Jade on campus to be a part of our program,” Tartamella said. “She’s a dynamic post player that brings a wealth of experience both at the collegiate and international levels. She has a great motor and her size and athleticism will help us inside in the paint.” 

Kaitlyn Chen

Following a successful Ive League career playing for head coach Carla Berube at Princeton, guard Kaitlyn Chen will travel to Storrs to play for Geno Auriemma, her former coach’s former coach.

Berube, who graduated from UConn as a national champion in 1995, tried her best not to influence Chen’s transfer decision, but is ultimately happy with how the pieces fell into place.

“I wanted her to find the best place for her, and … I didn’t say, like, ‘I want you to go here,’” Berube told The Next. “But of course, underneath, I would love for her to be playing at Connecticut. … It was such a great, for me, four-year experience that I would hope that she’d have that same kind of feeling for the one year that she’ll spend there. … So when she finally decided that was the place she wanted to be, I was ecstatic.”

Chen now has a chance to compete alongside UConn’s other elite guards—sophomores KK Arnold and Ashlynn Shade and redshirt senior Paige Bueckers, who comprised the Huskies’ starting lineup for much of last season. She steps in as an additional guard in UConn’s rotation, replacing some lost depth that left campus when Nika Mühl graduated and left for the WNBA.

“[Chen is] a little different than KK [Arnold]. She’s a little different than Ash [Shade] and a little different than Paige [Bueckers]. She’s different,” Auriemma said of Chen’s potential. “She just adds a little bit of spice and a little bit of difference to what we’re doing,”

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Faith Masonius

When Belmar, New Jersey native Faith Masonius was a high schooler, she was heavily recruited by Seton Hall head coach Tony Bozzella and then-assistant coach Lauren DeFalco. The Pirates wanted Masonius to stay local and bring her talents to West Orange.

Unfortunately for the Hall, Masonius enrolled at Maryland, spending five years under the direction of national champion head coach Brenda Frese. Now, with her final season of collegiate eligibility, Masonius is finally headed home to Jersey to compete in the BIG EAST.

Masonius is a dynamic 6’1 guard/forward who averaged 6.0 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists per contest as a Terrapin. She’s a skilled shooter, with a 49.6% career shooting percentage. Seton Hall will immediately benefit from Masonius’ skillset and poise.

“We are so happy to be able to add a player with Faith’s ability and tremendous leadership skills,” Bozzella said.  “When recruiting, we always strive to keep local talent home, and with Faith, we love that she’ll be playing her final collegiate year in her back yard.”

The Next’s Jenn Hatfield contributed reporting for this story.

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Written by Tee Baker

Tee has been a contributor to The Next since March Madness 2021 and is currently a contributing editor, BIG EAST beat reporter and curator of historical deep dives.

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