It's Official: Notre Dame, Pitt, Syracuse Members Of ACC
By Steve Barnes
It is official. The Atlantic Coast Conference has welcomed Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the league. Commissioner John Swafford made the formal welcoming announcement Monday in New York City’s Times Square.
The move gives the ACC 15 teams. Louisville will join next year.
Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim, Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Brey, Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher, Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer and former Pitt wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald joined Swafford at the event.
Although Fitzgerald has moved on from the Panthers’ program, one new opponent still remembers him.
“First, we (Virginia Tech) came from the Big East,” Beamer said. “We used to play against Larry in the Big East and I hope they don’t run him back out there again.”
Virginia Tech doesn’t have to worry about Pitt quite yet. The Panthers open on Labor Day by hosting Florida State.
“This (kind of game) is what you coach for, what players play for,” Fisher said. “I am familiar with Pitt fans from growing up in West Virginia so it will be a great atmosphere.”
The move also will help the league attract future players.
“Recruiting wise it is going to help us,” Beamer said. “The population and TV households affects recruiting and it will increase recruiting.”
As important as the expansion was athletically, it seems the conference was just as proud of the move geographically.
“We are moving forward as a true Atlantic Coast Conference, with membership spanning from New England to South Florida. But with the addition of Notre Dame — and Louisville in 2014 — the ACC’s reach will extend far beyond the Eastern Seaboard,” Swafford said.
“When one looks at the geographic area that composes the ACC, we have the most television households and highest population of any conference nationally. In addition, it is projected that by 2030, 55 percent of the U.S. population will lie within the ACC footprint. Our marketplace opportunities, along with the population numbers, both current and projected, give the ACC enormous potential as a conference over the next 15 years and beyond.”
The move also helps the ACC academically, although it needed no help. U.S. News and World Report recently named the Atlantic Coast the best league academically in the country.
Notre Dame will only be playing a partial schedule in football, but in terms of basketball, the Irish coach is already excited.
“I never thought I would coach in this league at the University of Notre Dame,” Brey, an assistant at Duke for eight years, said. “Our fan base is excited and it (joining the ACC) is unlimited.”
Notre Dame has already installed the ACC logo on its basketball floor.
Before the tipoff, however, there is the matter of football.
“This is tremendous,” Fisher said. “Our quality was already there and now we add Pitt, Syracuse and Notre Dame and Louisville next year, they won a BCS game last year.”
The first conference games kicks off in 62 days.