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ACC Expansion: Big East Won't Accept Buyouts From Pitt Or Syracuse

According to a report in the Sporting News, the Big East won't be backing down on its 27-month notice of withdrawal for West Virginia, Pitt and Syracuse. It doesn't sound like John Marinatto is accepting cash, either.

A high-placed Big East source told Sporting News that not only will the Big East not back off its 27-month notice of withdrawal for West Virginia, Pitt and Syracuse, but there's "no chance" the three wayward universities can buy their way out of the contract - for any amount of money - and leave in time for the 2012 season.

"It's not about money," the Big East source said. "It never has been."

It's unclear whether this is further positioning from Providence to get a larger buyout from West Virginia, as the other BCS commissioners seem to believe that West Virginia and the Big East will cut a deal that will allow the Mountaineers to compete in the Big 12 next season.

It may not be about money, but maybe just a little? The conference's TV partners can renegotiate a reduction in media rights fees should any current Big East member leave the conference before the current contract is up, which could end up hurting current Big East football and basketball programs financially.

As the Mountaineers and the Big East battle it out in court, West Virginia could simply leave and play in the Big 12 next season, breaking their current contractual obligations with the Big East and being subjected to a whole heap of legal fees.

West Virginia has been extremely aggressive in trying to bolt for the Big 12 in time for the 2012-13 season. Pitt and Syracuse, on the other hand, have been slow-playing the conference switch, bypassing the legal route and surveying the WVU-Big East battle to gauge whether the two programs could join the ACC sooner than 2014-15.

As the Big East digs in here, it doesn't appear likely that the Big East will release Pitt and Syracuse before 2014-15, and you can bet that the conference isn't going to do either program any favors when it comes to football scheduling in 2012 and 2013.

The timing also raises an interesting question about what to do about BC's 2013 home game against Syracuse. Will the two schools want to keep this game on the schedule if Syracuse is still in the Big East? BC will likely want to keep the return game from the Eagles' 2010 trip to the Carrier Dome, but the programs may simply want to cancel the rest of the long-term non-conference series that runs from 2013-2021 and let the ACC conference schedule take over starting in 2014.

Boston College was put in a similar position when the program moved to the ACC. In 2004, the Eagles traveled to Winston-Salem to take on Wake Forest in the return trip of a home-and-home non-conference schedule, only to host the Demon Deacons in an ACC contest the following season.