In a statement released shortly after it was confirmed Pittsburgh and Syracuse would be moving from the Big East to the ACC, UConn president Susan Herbst said that while her school is “a proud charter member of the Big East… it is my responsibility as President that we stay in constant communication and be actively involved in discussions with our counterparts from around the country to ensure the successful long-term future of our university’s athletic program.”
Apparently, she wasn’t joking about the constant communication and staying actively involved in discussions with other conference officials.
According to ESPN.com, “Herbst is aggressively pursuing membership in the ACC to become the 15th or 16th member institution” of the conference. Pittsburgh and Syracuse became the 13th and 14th members earlier today, although it remains unclear exactly when they officially join.
At a media teleconference conducted Sunday morning, commissioner John Swofford said that while his conference is comfortable with 14 members, it’s not philosophically opposed to moving to 16. Such a stance would certainly leave the door open for additional expansion; hell, Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson said in a statement today that his school is “look[ing] forward to discussions about the future of the league and would encourage a future expansion.”
As an aside, and as it pertains to UConn, the final paragraph of Herbst’s three-paragraph statement released Sunday morning deserves to be highlighted.
“To my mind, the conference realignments and incessant national gossip is distracting many presidents and athletic directors from the real conversations we should be having, about academics, the distorting role of money in sports and what it means to support student-athletes. I hope all settles soon, and we can change the national focus away from profiteering and back to student-athletes, where it belongs.”
Hypocrite much, Ms. Herbst? Apparently it’s fine to take the focus off academics and the distorting role of money in sports and shift it to expansion and profiteering in another conference when it benefits your institution.
People wonder why college sports, football in particular, are in the shape they’re in today? Look no further than the leaders charged with decision-making.