By Sean Fernandez
The similarities between Syracuse University and the University of Pittsburgh have been endless lately. Both schools announced in September that they would depart the Big East for the ‘greener’ pastures of the ACC, and on Wednesday it became clear that both schools will end up joining the conference together.
Two days after Syracuse University agreed to cough up a $7.5 million exit fee to have their Big East membership terminated one year early, University of Pittsburgh officials made the same deal. On July 1, 2013, the two schools will officially become members of the ACC.
For a while, it looked like things were going to get ugly between Pitt and their soon-to-be ex conference. They, along with bitter rival West Virginia, filed lawsuits against the Big East in May with hopes of having their memberships revoked early. WVU got their wish, paying $22 million to storm out of the Big East and join the Big XII in ’12. On Wednesday, Pittsburgh decided to take a page from the Orange playbook and exit on a more peaceful note.
Pittsburgh Athletic Director Steve Pederson had this to say about the move, “"We have appreciated and enjoyed our membership in the Big East and wish them much success in the future. We are anxious to compete in our final season in the Big East and look forward to an exciting future in the Atlantic Coast Conference."
Syracuse and Pitt will become the 13th and 14th members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, joining Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami, UNC, NC State, UVA, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest.
The loss of three prestigious, national title-contending schools would seem to have a negative impact on the well-being of a conference, but Joe Bailey doesn’t see it that way. The interim commissioner of the Big East commented on the matter, saying “This is another step for the Big East to take toward a very exciting future. With the addition of our eight new members, the Big East will be incredibly strong and vibrant.” We'll see about that.