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Fans mostly embracing Pitt's move to ACC

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By John Grupp
Monday, Sept. 19, 2011

Sean Bogosta grimaced when he heard the news.

The 22-year-old from Richland, whose family has held Pitt football and men's basketball season tickets for the past decade, couldn't fathom his beloved Panthers joining the Atlantic Coast Conference.

"This was a move I initially hated," he said. "But the more I thought about it, I think in the long run it can make a lot of sense for Pitt."

Pitt fans had mostly positive reactions to the school's decision to leave the Big East, its athletic home for the past 29 years.

Some pointed to the uncertainty of the college landscape and the need to find a stable home. Others were upset Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg would join the conference that raided the Big East for Miami (Fla.), Virginia Tech and Boston College last decade.

But for many Pitt fans, the increased TV revenue, the high quality of ACC basketball and the upgrade in football outweighed the loss of time-tested rivalries and allegiance to the Big East.

"I don't understand the state of confusion in college athletics," said Pitt season ticket-holder Jim Cauley, 59, of the East End. "But I don't want to see Pitt left without a chair when the music stops. I think being proactive was good. Things change. It's a good business decision."

"Everybody is getting ready for the big super-conferences," said Pitt fan Steve Kightlinger of Meadville. "They are just aligning themselves so they don't have to worry about being the last guy in."

Bill Seneca, 60 of Peters was more upset with Pitt's destination.

"The ACC sabotaged our league in '04-05, when they stole Virginia Tech, they stole Miami. Boston College lied to us," Seneca said. "Now we are going to join them.

"I think Pitt is (betraying the Big East). Nordenberg worked so hard to keep it together. Now we're going to leave. I'm disappointed by that."

Added Kevin Thomas, 47, of the North Side. "I love (Pitt) to death. Basketball, they can handle it. But football, they'll get killed. That's just my opinion."

The lure of joining traditional powers such as Duke and North Carolina is enticing for Pitt basketball fans.

"For basketball, I think it's going to be great," said 2010 Pitt graduate Andrew Becker, 23, of Lancaster. "We're going to have Duke and North Carolina. For football, it's going to (stink) because we're going to lose West Virginia."

Danielle Shega of San Diego, a '09 Pitt graduate, had just heard the news of the formal agreement.

"It's so soon that it's hard to think about," she said. "I thought they were just going to apply. My sister wants to go to Florida State. That will be our new rivalry. We'll see what happens."

Brett Solomon, 38, of Squirrel Hill is a graduate of the University of Maryland, an original member of the ACC when the league formed in 1953. But he remains an avid Pitt fan.

"It's a good move," he said. "The Big East is falling behind. Academically, they mesh in the ACC. Pitt gives them a big city. They kind of fill that footprint between College Park (Md.) and Boston College."

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