- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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We already have heard Big East commissioner John Marinatto hint at the possibility of letting Syracuse and Pitt leave for the ACC in time for the 2013 season.
Sounds like both sides are moving closer to that reality.
Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson told local reporters this week that he was hopeful a resolution can be reached between the league and the two schools to let them out of the Big East a year earlier than required.
"The Big East has been able to re-form itself now with more teams than when we announced we were going to leave. So they'll have 12 football teams, and they'll be ready to go by 2013, so it does seem to make sense on both ends that we'll be able to get there, and we're anxious to hopefully get that resolved and get everybody moving forward so we can all focus on where we're going to be in 2013," Pederson said. "In (Marinatto's) press conference with Temple (last week), he was ready to have those discussions, so I think we'll be able to get things resolved here."
When Pitt and Syracuse announced they were leaving for the ACC last September, they said they would abide by the required 27-month waiting period, which would keep them in the Big East until July 1, 2014.
But now that the Big East will be at 12 schools beginning in 2013 without Pitt and Syracuse, a clean break would seem to benefit both sides. Would that require negotiating? Pederson wasn't sure, but he feels comfortable with the way the two schools have handled their impending departure.
"One of the things we feel good about, whether it was Pitt or Syracuse or our new partners in the ACC is that we all tried to do the right thing, which was to make sure we gave the other schools in the Big East an opportunity to play a good, full schedule this year," Pederson said. "It would have been very difficult for them if Syracuse and us had decided to leave, and so we all came to the conclusion that it was in the best interest of the student-athletes at Rutgers, at UConn and Louisville that we be a part of this and stay through this. I hope and I believe they see that's been the right way to deal with this as well from our standpoint. I think we'll be able to arrive at a good conclusion with everybody."
Those comments have to be a shot at West Virginia. The Mountaineers were adamant about leaving the league immediately to join the Big 12, causing league scheduling chaos. Faced with the prospect of playing six Big East games rather than seven once a buyout was negotiated with West Virginia, the league was forced to add Temple for the 2012 season.
Because Pitt and Syracuse didn't bail on the rest of the league, Pederson believes the remaining schools might be more amenable to allowing an early exit.
"On the discussions I've had, they understand the situation we've been in and how we've tried to approach this, and they know we did the things we were asked to do as part of the league at that time," he said. "That's why I feel we'll arrive at a good conclusion. I think the best thing for all of us is for these things to end where they've re-formed themselves going forward, they've got a good, bright future and we're on our way to the ACC, and we have a great bright future, and we're excited about that. I think that's the way this thing can conclude."