In a shocking turn of events, the Connecticut Huskies have received and accepted an invitation to join the Atlantic Coast Conference, replacing the Syracuse Orange. UConn will join the ACC in all sports effective July 1 of this year.
Sources indicate that ACC officials decided to replace Syracuse with UConn after learning that Syracuse, New York is actually four hours from New York City.
One ACC official who asked that his name not be used because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the subject said "When league presidents decided to accept Syracuse into the conference, the Orange were billed as 'New York's College Team.' After realizing that Syracuse, N.Y. is nowhere even remotely close to New York City, we decided to go in a different direction. Syracuse promised to deliver the New York media market, yet after performing a simple Google Maps search, that claim became more specious the more we looked into it. No wonder the conferences TV media rights contract with ESPN didn't appreciate in value after the conference added a school closer to Buffalo than Manhattan."
The same anonymous ACC official added: "We also didn't appreciate Syracuse's blatant, full-court media blitz attempt to move the ACC Tournament to New York City's Madison Square Garden. Greensboro is our men's basketball tournament home. Always has been, always will be. Honestly, I can't imagine ever playing a conference championship in any sport outside of the state of North Carolina."
This is most welcome news for the University of Connecticut, which only a few weeks ago looked to have become the lone victim in the latest rounds of conference realignment that has swept through the country's major college athletics conferences. In accepting the ACC's invitation to replace Syracuse, UConn turns down overtures from the Southeastern Conference as previously reported in The New York Times.
"UConn is a proud charter member of whatever we are calling our conference these days and we have taken a lead role in the league's success over the years," the University of Connecticut president said in a statement. "However, it is my responsibility as president to get the school out of the flaming pile of wreckage that used to be the Big East conference. I am glad to see that all those unanswered voicemails I left with Commissioner John Swofford's office have finally been returned."
The Huskies will replace the Orange in the ACC's Atlantic Division, joining New England rival Boston College as well as Clemson, Florida State, Maryland, North Carolina State and Wake Forest. In 2014, the Louisville Cardinals will replace Big Ten-bound Maryland in the Atlantic. UConn will assume Syracuse's permanent cross-division rivalry with Pittsburgh in football as well as play home-and-homes against BC and Pitt in men's and women's basketball.
When asked to comment on the news, a Florida State official added: "East Hartford? Storrs? That's in the Northeast, right? Same as Syracuse? OK Whatever. We'll probably be in the SEC, Big 12 ... maybe even the Big Ten in a few years anyway."
UConn will join the ACC in all sports except for men's and women's ice hockey. The third best college hockey program in the state of Connecticut, the Huskies' men's hockey team is also set to join Boston College and ACC-bound Notre Dame in Hockey East in time for the 2014-15 season.
The ACC decision to replace Syracuse with Connecticut is a serious blow to Syracuse University athletics. The founding member of the soon-to-be-renamed Big East Conference have reportedly struck a deal with the Catholic 7 to play in the New Big East, rejoining arch-rival Georgetown. Syracuse men's basketball coach Jim Boeheim knows where all the good restaurants are in New York City and didn't want to bother to find out where the closest Denny's was in Clemson, South Carolina. This move also will allow the Orange to continue to play their conference's men's basketball tournament at the World's Most Famous Arena, something deemed to be as important to SU fans as football independence is to Notre Dame ones.
Syracuse football will also join Georgetown in the Football Championship Subdivision's Patriot League, challenging . the Hoyas for title of "dominant football program in the new Big East." The Patriot League will start offering athletic merit aid for football beginning this season. Seeing as Syracuse couldn't do much with 85 scholarships in the years following Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech's departure from the Big East, the football program is expected to make a seamless transition to 60 scholarships.
Oh, and enjoy April Fool's Day. Conference realignment is never a laughing matter, except when schools start personally naming Jesuit school presidents who have taken a lifetime vow of poverty in lawsuits and when the NYT starts floating UConn-to-SEC rumors. Then it's hilarious.