Pederson: Pitt seeking quicker exit from Big East
Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson, answering questions at a news conference in 2011, isn't ruling out legal action in order to leave the Big East early.
Steve Pederson doesn't rule out legal action to hasten exit from Big East.
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West Virginia has, according to reports, reached a settlement with the Big East to get the conference's contractual 27-month waiting period waived, which paves the way for the school to join the Big 12 starting in the 2012 season.
That's welcome news to the University of Pittsburgh administration, as the school is hoping that West Virginia's early exit will pave the way for Pitt, which has joined the Atlantic Coast Conference, to get the 27-month waiting period waived as well.
But Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson made it clear that while the school is pushing to leave the Big East as soon as possible, it is not going to pay any more than the $5 million exit fee to make it happen.
"No," Pederson said emphatically when asked Wednesday if Pitt would be willing to increase the amount of money to be able to leave the conference in time for the 2012 season.
Pederson, who met with members of the media to discuss a wide variety of subjects, said the school will, once West Virginia's settlement is finalized, look to aggressively resolve the scheduling issues.
"Hopefully, we can resolve [Pitt leaving the Big East] in a way that is good for everyone," Pederson said.
He didn't rule out legal action to make it happen, however, but said he would hope the school and the conference could work something out, especially now that the Big East has rebuilt itself and is ready to move forward.
"Our hope that these things can always be resolved where everybody leaves and shakes hands and feels good about it," Pederson said. "This would probably be a good time for everybody to start solving the problems and making everything work. We're not going to close any doors because we don't know what the future holds.
"But I think the sooner everyone can get to where they are going, the better for everybody. Really, though, above everything else, we have to protect the interests of this institution."
Pederson said that Big East officials have never given Pitt a reason the conference benefits from holding Pitt and Syracuse to the 27-month waiting period now that it is clear both teams and the conference clearly want to move on.
"You will have to ask them," Pederson said.
Even if the Panthers and Syracuse join the ACC for the 2012 season, the ACC will still only have an eight-game league schedule and then will have a nine-game conference schedule in 2013.
If Pitt stays in the Big East in 2012, it only has 10 games scheduled, which means Pederson would have to have find two more non-conference opponents. Pitt would have six Big East games and six non-conference games in 2012.
If the Panthers go to ACC, they will need to find one more non-conference game. Pederson said the school is "close" to making an announcement about an opponent to fill that spot.
Pederson said that options have been somewhat limited, however, because the Panthers -- along with most other schools from major conferences in need of a game for next season -- need it to be a home game.
Pederson addressed a few other key subjects during his session with the media.
He said former coach Todd Graham had a $1 million buyout in his contract and that already has been paid to the school. He said he has not spoken with Graham since the day before Graham left for Arizona State. He also said that Graham's version of his time at Pitt -- that he didn't have much support from the administration -- is not accurate.
"We certainly invested a lot of time in supporting both he and the staff," Pederson said, "so certainly the whole thing was disappointing, but we've moved forward. We had plenty of commitment to be a successful football program all around and we always have and will continue to."
Pederson also said senior offensive guard Chris Jacobson has been granted a sixth year of eligibility. He has had two seasons -- including the 2011 season that was lost when he tore an ACL in his knee -- wiped out with major injuries.
First Published February 9, 2012 12:00 am