Editorial: If Big Ten rumors are true, consider student-athletes

By Staff Editorial

Ever since Pitt and Penn State played their last football game against each other…

Ever since Pitt and Penn State played their last football game against each other in 2000, fans have been calling for the rivalry game to be restored.

The two programs, which faced off 96 times in 107 years, had perhaps the biggest intrastate rivalry in the nation. The result was national prestige for both programs, which saw a combined 11 national championships during that span.

Both schools have been relatively hush on why they haven’t agreed to revive the rivalry, but there’s one dramatic solution that, as of late, seems like a real possibility.

What if Pitt joined the Big Ten Conference?

Pitt officials have denied Internet rumors that they’ve already spoken with their athletes about a switch (see related story), but even if a decision is yet to be made, it’s no secret that the Big Ten is seriously considering adding another team and that Pitt is one of the contenders for an invite.

A switch would mean Pitt football would no longer play its Big East rivals — such as West Virginia, Cincinnati and Syracuse — and instead regularly face Big Ten teams, such as Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan. If all sports teams switched conferences, Pitt’s basketball team would stop playing schools like Connecticut, Villanova and Georgetown, and instead play schools like Michigan State, Illinois and Indiana.

There are millions of dollars involved in conference selection, and most aspects of the deals are kept private. Any deal with the Big Ten doesn’t appear to be made yet, which makes it even harder to speculate on the financial implications of a switch.

While officials might focus on the bottom line and fans might focus on the biggest games, we’d like to invite a new — and perhaps the most important — party to the discussion: the student-athletes.

Some Pitt athletes Tweeted about a potential conference switch, but their comments were later deleted.

Pitt fields 17 Division I teams, and a switch would likely impact all of them. The finances and the fandom will focus mainly on football and basketball, but what about the the players of the other 15 teams?

These teams exist for and because of the student-athletes, and their input should be valued when making this monumental decision, if Pitt indeed gets the opportunity to make it. Student-athletes should be allowed to share their opinions, through Twitter or other public forums. Hopefully the athletic department won’t try to squelch this discussion.

The Pitt News welcomes any letters to the editor from student-athletes who would like to share their thoughts on the potential switch.