Pitt to join Coastal Division of Atlantic Coast Conference

By Lauren Kirschman

Pitt doesn’t necessarily know when it will start playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but… Pitt doesn’t necessarily know when it will start playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but now the Panthers know where.

The ACC announced on Friday that Pitt will join the Coastal Division of the conference while Syracuse will join the Atlantic Division.

The Coastal Division consists of Virginia Tech, Virginia, Georgia Tech, Miami, Duke and North Carolina. Syracuse will play in the Atlantic Division with Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Maryland, North Carolina State and Wake Forest.

“We have been engaged in discussions on the various options for integrating Pitt and Syracuse since early fall,” ACC commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. “It’s a tremendous tribute to the leadership at our schools that we will be able to seamlessly add Pitt and Syracuse at the appropriate time when they become full playing members.”

Under Big East Conference rules, Pitt and Syracuse can’t join the Atlantic Coast Conference for 27 months after notifying the league of their departure. However, if West Virginia wins its lawsuit against the Big East to leave early, it could have implications for Pitt and Syracuse’s exit.

Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he’s “very interested in what’s going on with the West Virginia situation” and wouldn’t eliminate the chance that the Panthers could enter the ACC by 2012.

“We’re following that very closely,” Pederson said. “We’ll continue to monitor that situation. It seems like it’s changing on a daily basis.”

Pitt and Syracuse will become primary crossover partners for football, meaning that the Panthers will play all six teams in their division and Syracuse every year. Pitt will also play two rotating opponents from the Atlantic Division each season.

The ACC will play an 18-game conference schedule in basketball starting in the 2012-2013 season. Once Pitt and Syracuse enter the conference, each school will also have a primary partner for basketball. Pitt is matched up with Maryland while Syracuse is partnered with Boston College.

The basketball schedule will be set up in a three-year cycle. Pitt will play every league opponent at least once while playing Maryland home and away annually. The other 12 teams will rotate in groups of four. The Panthers will face a given team one year both home and away, one year at home only and one year away only.

All 14 teams will compete in the ACC Tournament.

For Olympic sports, all teams will play each other at least once during the regular season with the exception of baseball. The ACC will also add an ACC Championship for gymnastics. With Pitt joining the conference, the ACC will have four gymnastics programs, which is the number the league’s bylaws require for a conference championship.