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Pitt mum about Big 12 speculation

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Monday, Aug. 29, 2011

Pitt athletic department officials Sunday declined to defuse speculation that the Panthers could join the Big 12.

"Rampant speculation on conference expansion occurs, and changes, on a daily basis," senior associate athletic director E.J. Borghetti wrote in an email to the Tribune-Review. "It would not be productive or responsible to add to that speculation by commenting."

Big 12 officials expect Texas A&M to announce this week that it plans to leave the conference. Texas A&M has expressed interest in joining the SEC.

During a conference call Saturday, Big 12 university presidents discussed possible replacements if A&M leaves, which would reduce the conference to nine teams, the New York Times reported. Pitt, Notre Dame, Arkansas and Brigham Young were mentioned, according to the report.

It seems unlikely that Pitt -- which is four states away from the nearest Big 12 school, Missouri -- would join the conference. Although considered the weakest -- and therefore most vulnerable for raiding -- of the six BCS football conferences, the Big East has a commitment from TCU to join the conference next season.

TCU, which plays in the Mountain West, finished the past two regular seasons undefeated. It lost to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl after the 2009 season and defeated Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl last season. The Horned Frogs are No. 14 in the Associated Press preseason poll.

Pitt was picked to finish second in the Big East behind No. 24 West Virginia in the preseason media poll.

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