Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
In a move first reported by Kelly Whiteside of USA Today, the ACC Council of Presidents has unanimously voted to accept Pittsburgh and Syracuse as new members.
“The ACC is a strong united conference that is only going to get better with the addition of the University of Pittsburgh and Syracuse University,” said Duke University President Richard Broadhead, chair of the ACC Council of Presidents. “Both schools are committed to competing at the highest level of academics and athletics. We welcome them as full partners in the ACC.”
“The ACC has enjoyed a rich tradition by balancing academics and athletics and the addition of Pitt and Syracuse further strengthens the ACC culture in this regard,” said ACC Commissioner John Swofford. “Pittsburgh and Syracuse also serve to enhance the ACC’s reach into the states of New York and Pennsylvania and geographically bridges our footprint between Maryland and Massachusetts. With the addition of Pitt and Syracuse, the ACC will cover virtually the entire Eastern Seaboard of the United States.”
Syracuse Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor said: “We are pleased that Syracuse adds a New York City dimension to the ACC, a region in which we have built strong identity and affinity, and we look forward to bringing ACC games to the Big Apple. Overall, for Syracuse, this opportunity provides long-term conference stability in what is an uncertain, evolving, and rapidly shifting national landscape.”
Pittsburgh athletic director Steve Pederson added: “The strength and quality of the ACC is highly regarded by everyone at Pitt. When we set high expectations for our student-athletes in their academic, athletic and personal goals, it is important to provide every opportunity and resource to enable that success. Joining the ACC and the outstanding institutions in this conference will give every Pitt student-athlete the chance to achieve their highest aspirations.”
The ACC now has 14 members and the USA Today report says UConn and Rutgers are candidates to bring the league to 16 teams.
“We are a committed member of the Big East and will continue to explore all of our options and do what’s best for Rutgers,” Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti said Saturday in a statement released via Twitter.
Rutgers football coach Greg Schiano, speaking more bluntly, told The Star-Ledger: “It is musical chairs and you better make sure you have a chair when the music stops.”
Meantime, the ACC basketball league will now feature perennial national contenders Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse and Pittsburgh, along with whoever else might join.
“It’s actually pretty exciting,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski told ESPN.com. “I think it’s great for our conference football wise, even better basketball wise. Wherever this is going to end up, four big-time conferences or five, whatever it is, you want to be perceived as No. 1 in football and basketball. But to me this is in some ways a coup for basketball.”
Pittsburgh and Syracuse must give the Big East 27 months’ notice before leaving (which is late in 2013) and pay a $5 million exit fee.
The league is now down to seven football teams, including TCU, which joins in 2012, and 14 basketball teams.
“I’m worried…it’s crazy,” TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte told ESPN’s Joe Schad. “It’s nerve wracking for everyone in college athletics. There are earthquakes going on all around us. And we don’t know when they’ll settle.”
Big East Commissioner John Marinatto finally issued a statement late Saturday indicating he believes the league will persevere despite the losses of two of its premier basketball programs.
“Although I was obviously very disappointed to learn the news about the ACC’s being in discussions about membership with the University of Pittsburgh and Syracuse University, I continue to believe the Big East Conference is well positioned for the future and that the events of the past 24 hours will unify our membership,” Martinatto said. “We have been working steadily to solidify and strengthen the Big East Conference and position us for our upcoming TV negotiations and I am confident that we will again emerge from this situation and remain strong.”
**Big East to lose Pittsburgh, Syracuse to ACC
**Report: Pitt, Syracuse talking to ACC
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.