AP Sports Writer
CORAL GABLES — The Miami Hurricanes are reaffirming their commitment to the Atlantic Coast Conference, debunking speculation that they may be considering a jump to the Big 12 or elsewhere.
Hurricanes athletics director Shawn Eichorst released a statement Friday saying, among other things, that Miami has “not engaged in any formal or informal discussions with any other conferences” and that the school continues to believe in the appeal and strength of the ACC.
The Hurricanes began play in the ACC in 2004.
“We could not be more proud than to call the ACC our home,” Eichorst wrote in a statement. “We are confident in our progress and in our accomplishments, yet there is still much work to be done. We are committed to the ACC and to doing our part to continue the tradition of excellence across-the-board. In that regard, we have not engaged in any formal or informal discussions with any other conferences.”
Speculation about schools like Florida State, Clemson and Miami in the ACC has increased in recent days, with reports linking all three on some level to the Big 12.
Florida State says it is not negotiating with the Big 12 and university president Eric Barron said earlier this month one of the reasons for that is because the Seminoles “would lose the rivalry with University of Miami that does fill our stadium.” Barron released a list of pros and cons for a possible move after FSU board of trustees chairman Andy Haggard told Warchant.com the board “would be in favor of seeing what the Big 12 might have to offer.”
And, on May 24, the chairman of Clemson’s board of trustees said that the Tigers have not received any offers to move out of the ACC either, though he added that the school would listen if a serious one came along.
“We’ve not had any contact from any league,” Clemson board chairman David Wilkins said May 24. “If we receive a viable option, a viable proposal, that is presented to us by any league, we will consider it.”
The ACC has 12 member schools and will add Pittsburgh and Syracuse as soon as 2013. The Big 12 has 10, after it replaced Texas A&M and Missouri, which are headed to the Southeastern Conference next season, with West Virginia and TCU.
The buzz about possible ACC defections to the Big 12 picked up considerably last week after TCU athletics director Chris Del Conte discussed the possibility of the Hurricanes, Tigers and Seminoles wanting to switch conferences. Del Conte soon clarified his remarks, saying he was only repeating rumors.
Also, earlier this month, the ACC and ESPN announced an extension of their television rights contract through the 2026-27 seasons, the pact reportedly set to be worth $3.6 billion — meaning each member institution would see its share of TV revenues increase about 33 percent over the most recent deal to just over $17 million a year.
“The additions of the University of Pittsburgh and Syracuse University, as well as the new exclusive television partnership with ESPN, signal the very strength and nationwide appeal of the ACC,” Eichorst wrote. “Fans will be able to watch more ACC sports and more ACC games in more ways than ever before with the most powerful brand in sports behind us. This is an exciting time to be a part of the ACC and we are honored and humbled to be among its members.”
Associated Press Writer Susanne M. Schafer in Columbia, S.C. contributed to this report.
Photo: Shawn Eichorst