CLEMSON — The official welcome won’t take place in the Carolinas, or one of the new campuses, or some other destination city like Boston or Miami already represented by the conference.
It’s fitting, yet, the Atlantic Coast Conference chose New York City as the site to roll out the red carpet for Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Notre Dame, officially becoming the 13th, 14th and 15th members Monday.
There’s no other exposure behemoth quite like New York, New York, where league commissioner John Swofford and other ACC figureheads commence its long-term focus of rebranding from regional to national.
A press conference in Times Square is scheduled for 2 p.m. Monday, with master of ceremonies Brad Nessler from ESPN.
Swofford will make formal remarks, followed by a roundtable with standbys Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher, North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams and Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer joined by Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Brey, Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim and former Pitt receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
Then Swofford is scheduled to ring the NASDAQ closing bell at 4 p.m.
In securing Syracuse and Notre Dame, the ACC grabs viewers from two of the three most saturated media jungles in the country (granted, Orange diehards trail Yankees fans in the Big Apple by just a tad; but Chicago loves its Irish.) Count Pittsburgh at No. 23, and that’s three top-25 television markets joining the ACC.
Not to mention: the ACC has poached two states with heavy Big Ten footprints in Indiana and Pennsylvania.
“I think you’re seeing the new markets in which it’s reaching — all the way through New York, all the way through Pittsburgh. With Notre Dame coming in, that gives you even more of a national brand,” Fisher told the ACC Digital Network. “I think it’s going to help our conference grow as far as exposure. The whole country is now going to see how good the ACC is in everything.”
Previously charter members of the former Big East Conference, Pitt and Syracuse were invited and accepted in September 2011. In 2012, Notre Dame agreed to join the ACC in everything but football, with the stipulation to play five ACC foes a year on a rotating basis and join the league’s future bowl tie-ins, which as of last week includes the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium — another example of the ACC looking to supplant the Big East as the city’s choice college conference.
“There’s just potential opportunities that have never been there before and we need to recognize those, evaluate what’s best for the future, and respect what has brought us to where we are today,” Swofford said in an Associated Press interview. “We’re still the ACC. Our cornerstones have not changed. We’re bigger and better and stronger than we’ve ever been in our history.”
Swofford’s April approval of a grant-of-rights deal ensures that any of the soon-to-be 16 members — Louisville replaces Maryland in 2014 — would forfeit their enormous TV money by bolting, which basically locks down all those schools until 2026-27. Or, when Kim and Kanye’s baby is in high school.
“You want to go into a conference where you know the members are fully committed to the conference,” Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick told the AP. “(The grant of rights) was a very significant manifestation of that commitment. That’s a great place.”
The first-year impact on Clemson includes a football trip to Syracuse’s Carrier Dome on Oct. 5, and a home-and-home basketball series with Pittsburgh. In fact, the 2013-14 hoops season sends the Tigers to each of the three league newcomers’ gyms.
New York is historically a college basketball city more so than football, and the ACC beefs up its league with two schools particularly rich with men’s basketball success in the Orange and Panthers. The three programs combined for a Big East regular season or tournament championship in 11 of the past 14 years, and they join an already bullish ACC league with the likes of Duke, North Carolina, Miami and North Carolina State.
“I think you’ve got the best basketball conference you could possible have,” Boeheim said to the ACC’s website. “Maybe the best basketball conference it’s ever been.”