The Pittsburgh Panthers and the Big East Conference are finalizing their divorce and it will cost the university $7.5 million to leave the Big East and head over to the Atlantic Coast Conference, a move being mimicked by Syracuse.
The new deal includes $5 million Pittsburgh has already paid and an additional payment for the move. The move isn’t good news for the Big East which is losing one of its most storied college franchises.
In a statement regarding the switch Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson said:
“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.”
Pittsburgh was originally willing to wait the full 27-months required to announce and then withdrawal from the Big East but the university changed its path and in May filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania in which officials claimed the Big East waived its right to enforce a withdrawal after allowing West Virginia to leave for the Big 12 before the 27-month period had ended. West Virginia paid $20 million to exit the conference.
Following the lost of three big name schools the Big East extended invitations to Central Florida, Memphis and Temple.
Interim Big East commissioner Joe Bailey said in a statement:
“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.”
The move couldn’t come quick enough for the Pittsburgh Panthers who are under the control of first-year football coach Paul Chryst.
Chryst claims the move and the fact that the university cycled through four coaches in 18 months is the least of his concerns.
“We’ve got a lot to just focus with just ourselves,” Chryst said. “We’ve got a really good group of seniors. This is their last year and anything but focusing on this year … would be cheating everyone.”
Once the move is completed the ACC season will include a nine-game conference with Pittsburgh and Syracuse.
Pittsburgh joined the Big East in 1982 and became a charter member when the league expanded in 1991