- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 6, 2011

The eventual addition of Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC figures to strengthen the conference in basketball.

It might have an unintended local spillover, though - making it difficult for Maryland to continue playing annually in the BB&T Classic.

New Terrapins coach Mark Turgeon said Thursday that if the ACC’s conference schedule grows, it could be difficult to keep the 17-year-old event on the schedule.

“The only thing I’m concerned of, and I don’t want to sound negative, is we’re probably going to go to an 18-game league schedule and then you want to be a part of an exempt tournament and then you’re part of the Big Ten/ACC deal,” Turgeon said. “You really have to look hard at it. I’d love to stay in it and help, but it’s got to be what’s best for Maryland basketball in the end.”

Pittsburgh and Syracuse received ACC invitations last month, and their arrival from the Big East would expand the league to 14 schools. It is uncertain when the schools will join the ACC since the Big East requires a 27-month notice before withdrawing from the league.

Turgeon said Maryland’s contract with the event covers the next two seasons. The Terps will play Notre Dame in this year’s event Dec. 4. George Washington faces Virginia Commonwealth in the other half of the doubleheader at Verizon Center.

The event was started in 1995 as a four-team affair at the old USAir Arena in Landover. It later moved to Verizon Center when the building opened downtown.

It became increasingly difficult to attract two out-of-town teams to give up two home games to play in the BB&T, and the event adopted a single-day format in 2005. Former Maryland coach Gary Williams is an ardent supporter of the Children’s Charities Foundation the event benefits and agreed to play return games against its last two BB&T opponents (Villanova and Temple) the previous two seasons.

The NCAA does not consider BB&T an exempt event, which are multi-game tournaments that only count as one contest in the eyes of the NCAA.

“An 18-game league schedule, which I’m pretty sure is going to happen, really handcuffs coaches to go out and do things like this,” Turgeon said. “So we’ll see. If they made it an exempt tournament, that would really help John [Feinstein, an author and a member of the Children’s Charities Foundation board of directors] because then he could bring in different teams every year and we could come [in an] every-four-years type of thing.”

Meanwhile, Turgeon said the NCAA has yet to clear Ukrainian center Alex Len, who signed with Maryland in August but expressed optimism the Terps would know his status when practice starts Oct. 15.

“That’s out of our control,” Turgeon said. “I think we’re getting closer. I think we’re in the final steps. I’m hoping we hear before practice starts. It’s kind of hard to start putting in your offense if you don’t know who your team is going to be, so I’m hoping we hear something next week.”

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