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.
North Carolina athletic director Dick Baddour said the ACC created a committee last year of athletic directors, university presidents and faculty athletic representatives to examine possible scenarios of both expansion and defections. Baddour, one of the four athletic directors on the committee, wouldn’t reveal specifics of those discussions nor comment specifically on Syracuse and Pittsburgh.
“If you think about this nationally, it’s obvious that the world is turning upside down and you want the ACC … to be in a position where we are strong in all areas, that all of our sports are strong, that our television packages are strong as well,” Baddour said shortly before kickoff of the Virginia-North Carolina game.
The New York Times first reported news of the talks involving the ACC on Friday, and CBSSports.com first reported Saturday the schools had filed applications with the ACC.
Until now, the focus of this most recent round of conference realignment had been on the Big 12, with the board of regents at Oklahoma and Texas meeting Monday to discuss their conference futures. Oklahoma could be heading to the Pac-12 and taking Oklahoma State with it. Texas has stated its desire to keep the Big 12 together, but the Pac-12 could be an option as well as football independence, a la Notre Dame, which competes in the Big East in all other sports.
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott attended 23rd-ranked Texas’ meeting with UCLA at the Rose Bowl on Saturday, but said he had no plans to meet with Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds or President Bill Powers.
Scott talked with Texas, Oklahoma and several other Big 12 teams last year while his conference added Utah and Colorado, signing a massive television contract along the way.
Scott reiterated the Pac-12’s stance on expansion: The conference is “not being proactive,” but has been approached by universities and is willing to consider growing again. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have been linked with a Pac-12 move for several weeks, and Scott has confirmed several unidentified schools recently approached him for preliminary discussions.
“I’m surprised there’s been so much activity so quickly,” Scott said, alluding to the upheaval in conference alignment talks the past few weeks. “There’s been a lot of transition in a short time.”
Scott said no school has applied for admission to the Pac-12, but also said the conference has no formal application policy.
There also have been reports linking Texas to the ACC, a move that likely would include Texas Tech.
The Big East was close to signing a contract extension for its television rights with ESPN this year, walking away from a nine-year deal that reportedly was worth about $1 billion.
Marinatto said in August that the Big East felt it was in a position of strength as the last major football conference to negotiate a deal because there would be more bidders on the market with NBC expanding its cable presence and Fox becoming more involved in college football.