Over the weekend, the Boston Globe released a pretty revealing behind-the-scenes look into what went into the ACC’s decision to grab Pittsburgh and Syracuse from the Big East. One of the focal points of the story was Boston College athletic director Gene DeFilippo, who revealed, among other things, that he lobbied against UConn being brought in to the ACC.
“We didn’t want them in,’’ he said. “It was a matter of turf. We wanted to be the New England team.’’
UConn has made it abundantly clear that they want out of the Big East and into the ACC. Or, they’ll go to whichever conference will take them.
But it wasn’t just that DeFilippo wanted UConn out of the discussion; it’s apparently who ESPN, which has television contracts with both the ACC and the Big East, said should be in the discussion. From the Globe:
The overwhelming force behind the move, DeFilippo insisted, was television money.
The ACC just signed a new deal with ESPN that will increase the revenue for each school to approximately $13 million. With the addition of Pittsburgh and Syracuse, said DeFilippo, another significant increase will come.
“We always keep our television partners close to us,’’ he said. “You don’t get extra money for basketball. It’s 85 percent football money. TV – ESPN – is the one who told us what to do. This was football; it had nothing to do with basketball.’’
If ESPN influenced the ACC’s expansion efforts in any way, it could mean a huge lawsuit from the Big East because of the interest the company has in both conferences. That’s not to say the Big East didn’t set itself up to be picked clean, but you can understand the hundreds of millions of dollars in legal ramifications if such a statement by DeFilippo were even partially true.
So, as one would expect, DeFilippo issued a statement of apology to ACC presidents and AD’s for his quotes in the Globe story, saying he spoke “erroneously”.
“While I harbor some ill feelings toward the University of Connecticut regarding the [Big East] lawsuit, depositions and derogatory comments from UConn officials when we announced our decision to join the ACC, it was inappropriate to express personal feelings,” DeFillipo stated.
Too late now.