- Associated Press - Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Atlantic Coast Conference has received application letters from Pittsburgh and Syracuse to join the league, a move that would leave the Big East scrambling to replace two of its longest tenured members.

Florida State President Eric Barron told The Associated Press on Saturday before the Seminoles played No. 1 Oklahoma that the ACC was excited about adding to its “northern tier.”

“Pittsburgh and Syracuse, who have applied, these are solid academic schools, and the ACC is a truly academic conference,” Barron said. “Certainly great basketball teams, a good history of football.

“I’m sure consideration will be very fast. I’ll be surprised if it’s not tomorrow (Sunday).”

Late Saturday night league officials announced a 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday teleconference but did not disclose the subject of the call.

Barron confirmed that 11 of 12 ACC presidents attended a meeting in Greensboro, N.C., on Tuesday _ the other participated by phone _ and unanimously approved raising the exit fee to $20 million _ up from $12 million to $14 million _ for any member leaving the conference.

“The great thing is that the conference is strong and committed to a unanimous commitment to staying together,” North Carolina State Chancellor Randy Woodson said. “And to the extent that this is kind of a dramatic shift in conferences, we’re trying to be proactive and stay strong.”

The Big East’s exit fee is $5 million, though schools wanting to leave must provide 27 months’ notice.

A jump by Pittsburgh and Syracuse could lead to another dramatic shuffle in college athletics. Texas A&M already has announced its intention to join the Southeastern Conference, leaving the future of the Big 12 in doubt. The board of regents at Oklahoma and Texas are meeting Monday to discuss the possibility of the universities leaving that conference.

Big East spokesman John Paquette declined to comment on the possible defections. Pittsburgh spokesman E.J. Borghetti said athletic director Steve Pederson also wouldn’t comment. Syracuse AD Daryl Gross also declined comment.

Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich said he believed the departures were a done deal.

“I think it was kind of a shock to everybody,” he said. “We’ll have to work around it. … There was a lot of tradition in both programs. They brought a lot to the Big East. We’ll pick up the pieces and surround ourselves with other teams that are out there. We all have to follow the landscape.”

If the move goes forward, Pittsburgh and Syracuse would become the fourth and fifth schools to leave the Big East for the ACC in the past decade. Virginia Tech and Miami joined in 2004, and Boston College followed a year later as the ACC’s 12th member.

Syracuse is a founding member of the Big East, and Pittsburgh joined the league in 1982.

News of a possible Big East upheaval came on the heels of the death of its founder, Dave Gavitt, who died Friday night after a long illness.

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