Pitt coach Jamie Dixon and Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said something at Big East media day on Wednesday that decision-makers from the ACC have not said publicly. They believe the additions of Pitt, Notre Dame and Syracuse were done in large part to strengthen the ACC as a basketball league.
Football and television revenue drive conference shifts these days. And yes, Pitt and Syracuse benefitted from a financial standpoint when they moved from the Big East to the ACC. In time, the ACC might reap the benefits if the Panthers and Orange turn their football programs around.
But the ACC for a long time has wanted to be known as the best college basketball league in the country. It once held that distinction, but the Big East had overtaken it. The Big East placed 11 teams in the NCAA tournament in 2011 and has consistently placed more teams in the NCAA tournament than the ACC.
“They saw the Big East getting, 8, 9 teams in the tournament every year,” Brey said. “That’s what they wanted. I don’t think there is any question it was done for basketball. I think it started with the coach and the AD down in Durham. They said the next time we expand we have to go after some basketball schools.”
Dixon also believes the recent ACC expansion had men’s basketball dominance in mind. Since 2001, Pitt is the most successful team in the Big East. The Panthers have a 129-57 record in Big East play since ’01. Syracuse is next with a 124-62 mark.
“They consider themselves a basketball conference,” Dixon said. “In today’s age that’s hard to be. It was a reason. I don’t think they’re going to promote that as a reason, but it’s a factor.”
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