The ACC made the first move.
After months of speculation surrounding conference expansion across the college athletics landscape, the Atlantic Coast Conference took the first step toward four “superconferences” in college athletics. On Sunday, the league added Pittsburgh and Syracuse after the two teams had spent close to 30 years with the Big East.
The ACC had been in the center of a lot of the conference expansion talks over the weeks —but for all of the wrong reasons. With Texas A&M departing the Big 12 in hopes of joining the SEC, many believed Virginia Tech, Florida State and Clemson could all be viable candidates to go next.
However, ACC commissioner John Swofford, along with many athletic directors and coaches throughout the league, continued to stress to the media that they were completely happy with their membership. Many speculated how the commissioner would be able to keep a respectable league during all of this conference realignment. Swofford remained quiet and worked on a plan behind the scenes.
The act of adding Pittsburgh and Syracuse happened extremely quickly. The two teams applied for membership sometime Friday or early Saturday, and by early Saturday morning, the presidents had already voted to accept the two teams to the league.
This move shocked the college world. While many expected the ACC to get ripped up by college conference expansion, they had made a move that solidified them as a stable league that will be around for a long time. Evidently, other teams took notice, as up to 10 teams reportedly approached the ACC about possible membership.
The league has said it is possible that it will continue to expand. With 14 teams, Swofford has said that while adding two more teams is possible, the conference remains comfortable with the current number.
A wide number of schools have been rumored for the final two spots in the ACC. Those included are Texas, Penn State, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Rutgers, Louisville and several other Big East schools. Connecticut has been rumored to be pursuing the league aggressively in hopes of joining. However, the league will not want to add only UConn, and as of now, there is no apparent 16th member to accompany Connecticut in their membership.