Realignment Dominoes Fall as Syracuse Moves From Big East to ACC

September 19, 2011 – 11:00 am by Eric Schmoldt

While everyone around the country was talking about Texas A&M’s potential move to the SEC and what that meant for other teams in Texas and in the Big 12, there was some quieter shifting going on elsewhere. It didn’t remain quiet through the weekend, however.

While much of the attention was on what was happening in the Midwest, Syracuse and Pitt suddenly made headlines as they were accepted into the ACC, making the move from the Big East. It’s just the latest in the topsy-turvy world of college athletics, but Syracuse athletic director Daryl Gross said the move was a long time in the making.

Daryl Gross joined The Score 1260 in Syracuse with Dan Tortora to discuss how the move came about, how Pittsburgh was the team to make the move as well, what it all means for Syracuse, how fast they were accepted by the ACC, how quickly the shift can go down, the competitiveness of his teams now that they’re in the ACC and what he is looking forward to most.

When did everything come together for a decision that it was time to move to a new conference?:

“I think it’s been a long, long, long process. When I say long, let me put some time-frame on it. When you go back to when the Big Ten announced and made a formal announcement that they were going to evaluate their conference, I think that was a time where folks started to do some self-evaluation of their own institutions. … When you start thinking about all the topics in college athletics, budgets not balancing, and those types of things, everybody’s looking at the long-term. … We’ve been doing this for a long time and we came to the conclusion that we were well-prepared to either enhance our own conference or we would be attractive for someone else if something started to move in the country. … It’s tough leaving the Big East and the history there, but it’s going to be a different world when we wake up in the next few months here. I think it’s great we were proactive and able to move fast.”

What was it that made Pittsburgh the team that would make the move with you?:

“We did this individually. They weren’t aware of us; we weren’t aware of them. Not until the end.”

What does this move mean for Syracuse?:

“Academically, it’s a great fit. I like to call it … the Ivy League of the BCS schools. I really believe that. … It’s the big picture really. And it’s nice that we happen to have the same common interests athletically.”

Was the application process handles pretty quickly or was there a little bit of nervousness in waiting?:

“I think we were at mutual agreement that it would be best for everybody. … I think that’s what made it so smooth and so fast. The dialogue was terrific and we all thought that we had a win-win situation.”

How soon can this happen?:

“We’re going to cooperate with our colleagues at the Big East and I’m sure that will all shake out when they figure out what their identity is and how we move forward. I don’t think we have an answer right now. On the other side of it, if they get another angle toward new teams in their conference, then they may want us out sooner.”

How competitive will your football and basketball teams be in the ACC?:

“We went out and played a good Southern California football team … and they’ve got the best talent in the country. … We’re very proud of our team because, except for a couple of big plays, we’re able to physically hang in there with them. … We think football-wise … we’re going to be a great contender in the ACC. Obviously, in basketball, where we’re well-more established as far as recruiting and talent and Hall of Famer Jim Boeheim, I think we have a chance to be the cream of the ACC as well.”

What are you looking forward to most?:

“I’m looking forward to stepping up. Our mission has always been to compete for national championships. What this has done for us is give us the ability to add more resources to enhance that mission. … It’s going to give us a chance to compete for national championships.”

Listen to Daryl Gross on The Score 1260 in Syracuse here

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