Sunday, September 18, 2011

AMECC: The Atlantic Mountain East Coast Conference

(Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
The ACC announced Sunday that its council of presidents unanimously voted to accept Pittsburgh and Syracuse as conference members. The move increases the ACC’s membership to 14 and sends the Big (L)East scrambling to replace two of its cornerstone programs.

Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark Nordenberg said in a release that the school’s leadership “could not envision a better conference home for Pitt.”

The ACC says it extended invitations after the schools submitted letters of application to join the league. It is unclear when the move will take effect. The Big East’s exit fee is $5 million, and schools wanting to leave must provide 27 months’ notice.

Commissioner John Swofford said the expansion “geographically bridges our footprint between Maryland and Massachusetts.”

Syracuse Chancellor Nancy Cantor called the ACC “a perfect fit” for a program that was one of the founding members of the Big East.

“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,” Cantor said. “Overall, for Syracuse, this opportunity provides long-term conference stability in what is an uncertain, evolving, and rapidly shifting national landscape.”

Saying the league was excited about adding to its “northern tier,” Florida State President Eric Barron confirmed to The Associated Press on Saturday that the ACC received application letters from Pitt and Syracuse.

(Andy Lyons/GettyImages)
He said 11 of 12 league presidents attended a meeting in Greensboro, N.C., last Tuesday, with the other participating by phone. During the meeting, they unanimously approved raising the exit fee to $20 million—up from $12 million to $14 million—for any member leaving the conference, a maneuver seemingly designed to keep the remaining ACC schools in the fold.

The latest moves are sure to create even more bad blood between two conferences that became embroiled in a nasty lawsuit the last time the ACC expanded by adding schools from the Big East. A multibillion dollar settlement reached in 2005 included the scheduling of nine interconference football games.

Pitt and Syracuse bring the number of programs making the Big East-to-ACC jump in the past decade to five, and Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich said the most recent moves were “kind of a shock to everybody.”

Syracuse was one of the original targets of a previous round of expansion by the ACC along with Miami and Boston College in 2003. The ACC ultimately added the Hurricanes and Virginia Tech for the 2004 season and brought in BC for the following season as its 12th member.

The ACC scheduled a 9:30 a.m. ET teleconference with the media.

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