NEW YORK — The Atlantic Coast Conference’s plan to expand, revealed in 2010 and modified along the way, has come to fruition.
Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Notre Dame became members of the ACC today, giving the conference 15 members.
July 1 is moving day for schools switching conferences all over the country, including those relocating to the new American Athletic Conference.
The beginning of the American means the end of the Big East football after 31 years — and the beginning of the new Big East. The new basketball-centric conference comprised mostly of the Catholic schools that didn’t have FBS football programs in the old Big East also opens for business today.
All this is a culmination of sorts of shuffling that began the weekend of Sept. 17, 2010. Amid speculation about the Big 12 falling apart, news broke that the ACC had invited Pittsburgh and Syracuse to leave the Big East. The move sent the Big East into a spiral that ultimately tore it apart.
Meanwhile, the ACC has emerged stronger than ever — its members having agreed earlier this year to hand over media rights to the league through the 2026-27 school year — and looking to gain footing in the largest media market in the country.
The ACC will send a team to the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium for six years, starting in 2014. Part of the deal will be ACC signage at Yankee Stadium year-round. Swofford has openly talked about the possibility of playing the ACC men’s basketball tournament in the New York area, maybe Madison Square Garden or the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Syracuse has been branding itself as New York’s college team for several years, and Notre Dame has a huge following in the Big Apple, despite being located about 700 miles away in South Bend, Ind. The Fighting Irish, which agreed to leave the Big East last fall, are joining the ACC for all sports except football and hockey.
“We want to make sure that we’re progressive and creative and doing things that take advantage of the opportunities that come with that,” Swofford said last week after the Pinstripe Bowl announcement in the Bronx. “In a lot of ways, it’s about meshing the history and tradition of the league and its past, with a progressive approach to what the league can be in the future based on our footprint.”
The league that Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame leave behind bears only some resemblance to the one they had been part of for decades.
The Big East officially becomes the American Athletic Conference on Monday, too, with Central Florida, Memphis, SMU and Houston joining.
The American’s Twitter feed posted a link to its new website Sunday night with a message to visitors that ended with, “We are Proudly American. And we can’t wait to get started.”
Though it will get started with two lame duck members. Rutgers will leave for the Big Ten in 2014 and Louisville will be the latest departure to the ACC after this season, too. Louisville replaces Maryland, which will head to the Big Ten along with Rutgers.
As for the new Big East, it will look a lot like the old pre-football Big East: Villanova, Georgetown, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John’s, DePaul, Marquette, Butler, Creighton and Xavier.