Syracuse will be allowed to join the Atlantic Coast Conference a year earlier than the Big East bylaws normally allow, according to a press release issued jointly by the conference and the school this morning. The Orange will play their last season in the Big East this year, and will officially become ACC members on July 1, 2013.
In accordance with the bylaws, the conference members have agreed to vote in favor of terminating the Orange's membership in the conference in exchange for a payment of $7.5 million. This is similar to the arrangement that the conference reached with West Virginia last Spring, though the amount that Syracuse will pay is significantly less. The release also specified that there was "other consideration" that Syracuse has agreed to, but that has not been disclosed publicly.
"This closes a chapter and opens a new one filled with exciting possibilities for the Big East’s future. With the recent addition of eight schools to the Big East, the future for the Conference has never been brighter," said Joe Bailey, Big East Interim Commissioner.
The Big East will add Temple in football this fall, replacing the departed West Virginia, while SMU, Houston, UCF and Memphis will join in all sports for the 2013-14 academic year (Temple will also join in basketball and Olympic sports at that time). Boise State University and San Diego State will also join as football-only associate members of the conference in 2013, after Boise flirted with the possibility of staying in the Mountain West Conference when the survival of the WAC was seen as being in jeopardy.
"We look forward to the new academic and athletic partnerships and the extraordinary competitive opportunities that membership in the ACC offers," Syracuse AD Daryl Gross stated. "We are excited about both our final season in the Big East and our long-term future with the ACC."
Pittsburgh would also like to reach a settlement agreement to leave the Big East a year early, but their exit is more complicated after they filed a lawsuit against the conference in early-May. That suit was reportedly filed in an effort to expedite the negotiations over the Panthers' exit from the Big East, but ironically, the litigation that was invoked may delay the settlement.
Pittsburgh has also stated that they don't intend to pay more than the required $5 million even if they leave early, and have made claims to deduct certain football scheduling expenses incurred as a result of TCU not joining the conference and WVU leaving the conference as well.
The release detailing the Big East's agreement with Syracuse, however, provides a precedent for Pittsburgh to settle under similar terms. Having granted early exits to West Virginia and Syracuse, the Big East's argument for keeping the Panthers past this academic year would be somewhat strained. It should be expected that an agreement will be reached with Pittsburgh as well, though that will require that litigation be wrapped up and a settlement would need to be entered at the courthouse in Pennsylvania, as well.