By Ralph D. Russo
The Associated Press
NEW YORK — The Atlantic Coast Conference is now a 15-team league — and it might just stay that way for a while.
After Commissioner John Swofford welcomed Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Notre Dame to the ACC at a news conference at the NASDAQ stock exchange in Manhattan, he said that further expansion isn’t on the agenda.
“It’s not a topic of conversation for us right now,” he said. “I would not anticipate it being in the future, but we’ll see. I don’t predict the future much anymore, I’ve learned better. But it’s not something that’s on the table for discussion in our league right now.”
Swofford was joined at the news conference by Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher, Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer, Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Brey, Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim and former Pittsburgh great and now Arizona Cardinals star receiver Larry Fitzgerald. The group then took part in a closing bell ceremony at the stock market.
The ACC even brought the mascots to Times Square for an event it dubbed (hash)ACCtakeNYC on Twitter. The fuzzy crew of costumed characters was bouncing around Manhattan on Sunday, posting pictures on Twitter from various tourist attractions.
The ACC does have one more lineup change scheduled for next year, when Maryland leaves for the Big Ten and Louisville joins.
The Cardinals were picked to replace the Terrapins ahead of Cincinnati and Connecticut. Both of those schools lobbied the ACC to be next out of the Big East and both remain in the newly renamed American Athletic Conference.
If the ACC ever does decide to go to 17 members — 16 for football as Notre Dame will remain an independent in its flagship sport — Cincinnati and Connecticut would make geographic sense and fit in perfectly with what is shaping up to be the most formidable basketball conference in the country. Syracuse and Pittsburgh have been perennial top-20 basketball programs in recent years, and Louisville is the defending NCAA champion.
“From an athletic perspective, I think it’s more than fair to say this is the strongest collection of basketball programs that has ever been assembled in one conference,” Swofford said. “And our potential from a football standpoint is truly unlimited.”
On the football side, Louisville is coming off one of its most successful seasons, capped by a victory against Florida in the Sugar Bowl. Syracuse and Pittsburgh haven’t been made much noise nationally in football for most of the last decade, though Fisher said ACC football is better with the arrival of the Panthers and Orange this year and Cardinals next.
“You’re talking about a league that can compete for national championships,” said Fisher, whose Seminoles are the defending ACC champions and finished No. 10 in the country last season.