Pitt's move to the Atlantic Coast Conference is now official. The Panthers will become members of their new conference in less than a year.
Pitt will join the ACC on July 1, 2013, and will pay a total of $7.5 million to exit the Big East. The Panthers are paying an additional $2.5 million to leave one year early.
Syracuse announced Monday that it was leaving the Big East under the same terms. Before Pitt and Syracuse announced they were leaving, the Big East had a $5 million exit fee. It has since been raised to $20 million.
Pitt had been negotiating its exit with the Big East for months. Athletic director Steve Pederson and former Big East commissioner John Marinatto were discussing a settlement this spring, but things became difficult after Marinatto resigned.
Shortly after Marinatto's departure, Pitt filed a lawsuit against the Big East with the goal of getting out a year early. The university cited the Big East's decision to allow West Virginia and TCU to exit early.
Pederson said this winter that Pitt would not pay any additional fees to exit the conference, but justified the decision to pay the extra $2.5 million.
"It just made sense," Pederson said. "We already were going to be in the Big East for two seasons after we made the decision to leave. It was just time to move forward. Certainly, other schools have paid more to exit their conferences earlier. We're satisfied where we ended up."
West Virginia paid $20 million to leave the Big East immediately. The Big 12, the Mountaineers' new conference, is paying part of that fee. The additional $2.5 million Pitt will pay is expected to be generated from the revenue made from moving to the ACC.
Pitt stands to make $17 million per year under the terms of the ACC's new television deal, which is a significant upgrade from the university's current revenue in the Big East.
"It's an exciting day in so many ways for this university and athletic department," Pederson said. "We have a certain road map for the future. That was important. We're going to make sure this final season in the Big East is special because it's the final season for our seniors, and we want all of them to have great final seasons. But we're also looking forward to moving ahead in the ACC."
Pederson said now that Pitt and Syracuse are officially in the ACC for 2013, the conference can begin to work on scheduling and long-term planning.
"Today's announcement that Pitt will be joining the ACC on July 1, 2013 is terrific one," ACC commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. "It's exciting to know that both Pitt and Syracuse will become playing members in the ACC starting with the 2013-14 academic year. I'm pleased that both schools were able to finalize agreements with the Big East. The ACC has long enjoyed a rich tradition of balancing academics and athletics and the addition of Pitt and Syracuse further strengthens this conference. Throughout this past year, we've been preparing to welcome both teams into our membership and we look forward to the future of the ACC with these two schools as prominent members."
The Big East recently added eight schools -- three in football only and five others in all sports.
"We have really enjoyed and appreciated our time in the Big East," Pederson said. "We're happy for them because they've been able to re-engineer their conference. Now we're looking forward to moving forward in the ACC."pittsports