How Syracuse’s Move to the ACC Will Impact the Big East

Story posted March 10, 2012 in Sports, CommRadio by Breanna Jacobs

With their impending move to the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Syracuse Orange are leaving the Big East in a bind.

The move, set to take place in 2014, will certainly be a beneficial one for Syracuse basketball. Not only will they get the chance to play alongside the likes of Duke, North Carolina and Virginia Tech, but they will bring in greater amounts of revenue to the school's athletic programs.

Despite this, it is a gutsy move for the university, and a move that leaves their soon-to-be former conference searching for star power. Under head coach Jim Boeheim, Syracuse went 30-1 overall and 17-1 in the Big East this season. The Orange are currently ranked second in the country and are set to receive a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament. In fact, it is rare that Syracuse ever misses out on the NCAA Tournament: the team has not missed it since 1993. The team has had great success in the Big East.

To many, the move to the ACC may look like a positive one for Syracuse, especially for the basketball program. The Orange will now have the chance to regularly play several legendary programs every season.

But what will become of the Big East without Syracuse?

Like Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia are also on the move. Pitt will follow the Orange to the ACC, while the Mountaineers are heading to the Big 12.

This leaves Big East basketball with 13 teams, headlined by Connecticut, Georgetown, Louisville, Notre Dame and Marquette. To make up for the difference, the conference plans to add five full universities: Central Florida, Houston, Memphis, Southern Methodist and Temple.

There is no question that the Big East no longer has boundaries based on region. There is also no question that the conference's basketball stock will decrease after these moves take place. Rivalries like Syracuse-Georgetown, Syracuse-UConn and Pitt-Villanova will be erased with the moves, and some of the most reliable teams as far as attendance is concerned will be gone.

It is no mystery why Syracuse has the best attendance in the Big East: playing in the massive Carrier Dome gives them plenty of seating, and their consistent success fills the arena every time. Without Syracuse, the Big East will be losing revenue.

More important than the money, though, is the competitive balance in the conference. The appeal of Big East basketball for years has been the sheer number of competitive teams every season, giving it one of the most enjoyable regular seasons in college hoops and arguably the most exciting conference championship tournament.

The Big East is now more top heavy. Three regular contenders have left, and only Memphis and Temple have shown any consistent success in basketball in recent years.

Syracuse seemed to be the glue that kept the Big East together for the last decade. There never seemed to be a dull moment when they played another Big East team. And while annual matchups against Duke and UNC will be exciting, is the ACC much of a step up from the Big East competitively?

The Big East's reputation as a basketball conference will suffer without Syracuse. While no one is predicting the collapse of the Big East in its entirety, the empty space left by the Orange is not going to be filled any time soon.

The departure of one of the country's best basketball programs will lead fans to tune into ACC matchups instead of the established Big East rivalries of recent years. And while UConn may be good enough to keep the conference afloat for the time being, it won't be long before their 2011 championship is a fleeting image in the rearview mirror of college basketball.

It is uncertain what the future holds for the Big East, but without Syracuse, it is certainly not as bright.

Breanna Jacobs is a sophomore majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact her, email byj5032@psu.edu.