Although West Virginia is bolting from the Big East early, Pittsburgh and Syracuse will not leave the Big East this fall for the Atlantic Coast Conference, college football industry sources told CBSSports.com.
West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Syracuse were scheduled to leave the Big East in 2014, but the Mountaineers filed a lawsuit to exit early. CBSSports.com reported last week that West Virginia and the Big East reached a verbal agreement that would pay the Big East $20 million and resolve the issues between the two parties, allowing the Mountaineers to join the Big 12 on July 1.
Sources told CBSSports.com that Pittsburgh and Syracuse won’t try to leave this summer, but will attempt to negotiate deals to allow them to join the ACC a year early in 2013. Unlike West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Syracuse have not pursued any legal action to get out of the Big East’s 27-month exit requirement and leave before 2014.
The main reason Pittsburgh and Syracuse are not trying to leave the Big East this season is both schools don’t want to be “any more disruptive to the Big East” for the coming season. If Pittsburgh and Syracuse left for the ACC this summer, the Big East could be down to only five football members.
Another reason, Pittsburgh and Syracuse aren’t trying to join the ACC this fall, is because the ACC doesn’t desperately need the teams to fill out this year’s league schedule, like the Big 12 needed West Virginia to replace Missouri in its 2012 schedule.
With West Virginia paying $20 million to leave the Big East two years early, Pittsburgh and Syracuse each would likely have been required to pay the same amount to leave this summer. Also by waiting until 2013, they likely can negotiate a deal to only pay $10 million – double the $5 they initially paid when they announced they were leaving. That $10 million figure is the Big East’s current exit fee since Navy announced it was joining the league last month.
Finally the timing of a move in 2013 for Pittsburgh and Syracuse also would make more sense logistically since that’s when the Big East will be adding six members – Boise State, San Diego State, Houston, Memphis, SMU and UCF.
In December, Syracuse athletic director Daryl Gross said his school would honor the Big East’s 27-month exit agreement, but indicated the Orange preferred to leave sooner.
“We’re just open to seeing what happens,” Gross told CBSSports.com two months ago. “They (the Big East) are starting to put together what the new Big East will look like. As they go forward to put together new multi-media deals, they’re going to need us to move out of the way. We’re waiting for that.”
Big East commissioner John Marinatto has said repeatedly that West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Syracuse would not be allowed to exit the league until 2014.
Two weeks ago, when the ACC announced that Pittsburgh would compete in the ACC’s Coastal Division and Syracuse in the ACC’s Atlantic Division when they officially join the league, ACC commissioner John Swofford would not speculate whether the ACC would help Pitt and Syracuse financially to leave the Big East before 2014.
“The fact we made our decision how we will schedule and compete certainly helps us (when they join),” Swofford said. “In terms of when that time may come, I don’t want to get into a hypothetical of this or that. Our position continues to be that we want to prepare ourselves when they’re ready and it’s appropriate for them to join us.”
That won’t be this summer, but the ACC won’t have to wait until 2014 either.