Amid all the conference realignment rumors and talk of a shift in the college football landscape toward super conferences, University of Miami athletic director Shawn Eichorst released a statement Friday saying the school has “not engaged in any formal discussions with any other conferences” and it continues to believe in “the strength and appeal” of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
UM, which began playing in the ACC in 2004, has been linked in reports — along with Florida State and Clemson — as possibly having interest in leaving for the Big 12 Conference.
The buzz picked up steam this week after TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte discussed the possibility of the Hurricanes, Tigers and Seminoles wanting to join the Big 12. Del Conte later clarified his remarks saying he was only repeating rumors.
Eichorst took his shot Friday at shooting those down.
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“Since joining the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2004, the University of Miami has worked hard to measure up to the high academic and athletic standards set by our peers and we could not be more proud than to call the ACC our home,” Eichorst wrote in his statement.
“We are confident in our progress and in our accomplishments, yet there is still much work to be done. We are committed to the ACC and to doing our part to continue the tradition of excellence across the board. In that regard, we have not engaged in any formal or informal discussions with any other conferences.”
Two UM Board of Trustee members told The Miami Herald earlier this week they could not envision Miami being interested in leaving for the Big 12, in part because as one pointed out UM would need to pay more than $15 million in ACC exit fees.
The ACC has a dozen members and will be adding Pittsburgh and Syracuse as soon as the 2013 season. The Big 12 has 10 members after losing both Texas A&M and Missouri to the Southeastern Conference and adding TCU and West Virginia.
Earlier this month, the ACC and ESPN announced an extension of their TV contract through 2026-27, a deal worth $3.6 billion that would see each member institution receive an increase in about 33 percent over their previous deal worth $17 million a year.
“The additions of the University of Pittsburgh and Syracuse University, as well as the new exclusive television partnership with ESPN, signal the very strength and nationwide appeal of the ACC,” Eichorst wrote. “Fans will be able to watch more ACC sports and more ACC games in more ways than ever before with the most powerful brand in sports behind us. This is an exciting time to be a part of the ACC and we are honored and humbled to be among its members.”
Eichorst isn’t the first administrator from the ACC to reaffirm their school’s commitment to the league.
Virginia Tech athletic director feels comfortable with his school’s position in the ACC and doesn’t foresee any change to that in the future. Same for Georgia Tech Dan Rakadovich, who said Thursday there was a “large level of unanimity among athletic directors and faculty athletic reps to stay the course as the current Atlantic Coast Conference.”
FSU and Clemson both have said they have not received any offers to leave the ACC and are not in negotiations. But it doesn’t mean those schools aren’t considering it.
FSU board of trustees chairman Andy Haggard told Warchant.com the board “would be in favor of seeing what the Big 12 might offer.” FSU president Eric Barron later released a list of pros and cons for a possible move, but also said earlier this month one of the reasons the Seminoles would not negotiate was because it “would lose the rivalry with the University of Miami that does fill our stadium.”
Clemson board chairman David Wilkins said Thursday his school would consider “a viable proposal.”
C.J. Holton and Billy Sanders have left the UM football team but will remain enrolled at the school. Neither was likely to play much, if at all, this season. Holton has played linebacker and safety but was listed as a running back in the spring. Sanders was low on the depth chart at tight end. Both have eligibility remaining.