Athletics: No plans for Pitt to accept invitation to join Big Ten this week

By Jay Huerbin

It doesn’t look like Pitt will accept an invitation to the Big Ten conference —… It doesn’t look like Pitt will accept an invitation to the Big Ten conference — at least not this week.

The news came as recent stories surfaced online this past weekend that a meeting between Pitt athletes and athletic director Steve Pederson last Wednesday focused on Pitt’s decision to join the Big Ten. But Pitt’s associate athletic director E.J. Borghetti denied the rumors.

“Any internet reports that suggest Pitt is planning to make an announcement on its conference membership this week,” Borghetti said, “are untrue.”

The statement comes after multiple blogs and online news organizations speculated on the exact words said in the meeting between players and Pederson. Stories said that Pitt athletes Tweeted — and then later deleted messages — about a possible switch from the Big East to the Big Ten.

Some athletes who attended the meeting said that although they expected the meeting to involve talk about Pitt’s future conference affiliation, Pederson mostly talked about Pitt athletics’ recent success and reminded the players to stay focused mentally in classes this semester. The Big Ten conference, which includes 11 schools, announced Dec. 15 that the league’s commissioner was asked to “provide recommendations for [expansion] by the [the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors] over the next 12 to 18 months.” T

he news sent fans, bloggers and news organizations into an immediate speculation about to which school the conference would possibly give an invitation. Pitt was among schools like Notre Dame and Missouri rumored to get invited.

The last time the Big Ten conference expanded was in 1990, when then-independent Penn State accepted an offer to join. Penn State’s football coach Joe Paterno has been a strong proponent of Big Ten expansion, suggesting that a 12-team conference would give the conference two even divisions and a championship game.