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ACC officially welcomes Pitt, others

| Monday, July 1, 2013, 7:45 p.m.
Atlantic Coast Conference mascots join ACC and NASDAQ officials for the ringing of the closing bell on Monday, July 1, 2013 in New York. The Atlantic Coast Conference officials and coaches visited the NASDAQ Market Site in Times Square to officially announce the addition of its three new members in Notre Dame, Pitt and Syracuse.

All 15 ACC mascots raced to the top of the Empire State Building and rode a boat around the Statue of Liberty.

Four of the conference's most successful coaches, along with former Pitt receiver Larry Fitzgerald, posed for photo opportunities.

ACC commissioner John Swofford, hired 16 years ago Monday, couldn't stop smiling, even after the echo of the NASDAQ closing bell had long subsided.

It was no surprise that Swofford chose New York City as the venue to officially welcome Pitt, Syracuse and Notre Dame into the ACC.

While the conference expands from its Carolina roots, it could move the successful and profitable basketball tournament to Madison Square Garden, possibly as soon as 2016. The next two tournaments are scheduled for the Greensboro Coliseum in North Carolina.

“This is the media capital of the world,” Swofford said. “We wanted to showcase the ACC in New York City and show this is a very important part of our new footprint.”

Swofford said the MSG proposal was received well by member institutions, which will make the decision.

“I am confident our schools will make really good decisions,” he said.

With its new markets in New York, Pittsburgh and the Midwest — and Louisville joins next year — the ACC will have more TV households and a greater population than any conference. Swofford added that by 2030, 55 percent of the U.S. population will reside within the ACC's footprint.

Not long after the news conference, Root Sports, which telecasts Pirates and Penguins games, announced a partnership with the ACC to televise 140 live events, including Pitt football and basketball. That's on top of the ACC's 15-year, $3.6 billion contract with ESPN that will bring more than $17 million annually to each school.

That can lead to better resources and, possibly, championships.

Notre Dame men's basketball coach Mike Brey said the ACC has the potential to send as many as 10 teams to the NCAA Tournament.

“You get eight, nine, 10 teams in the tournament because your league is good,” Syracuse's Jim Boeheim said.

Football coaches Frank Beamer of Virginia Tech and Jimbo Fisher of Florida State are looking forward to mining previously untapped pools of talent. Just last month, Beamer lost offensive line recruit Mike Herndon of Staunton, Va., to Pitt.

“Our whole conference just helped ourselves, recruiting-wise,” Beamer said.

It's a big change over the fractured Big East where uncertainty chased away old-guard members.

“It's nice to be in a league where everyone is working toward the same goal,” Boeheim said.

Note: Pitt has retired Fitzgerald's No. 1 jersey. Fitzgerald becomes the ninth Panther to have his jersey retired.

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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