Georgetown University Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Lee Reed issued the following statement Sunday evening after the Atlantic Coast Conference announced earlier in the day that it had accepted applications from former Big East programs Pittsburgh and Syracuse: “As a founding member of the Big East in 1979, we have confronted challenging moments in the past and we are confident that as we work through the events of the past days we will maintain the high quality of the Big East Conference.”

The defections of Pittsburgh and Syracuse were motivated primarily by football and the ACC’s more lucrative television contracts. Unfortunately, for Big East basketball this means the loss of two long-time members and perennial contenders. Syracuse was a founding member of the conference, and Pittsburgh joined the Big East in 1982.

Whenever the move becomes effective, “Beat ‘Cuse” signs will cease to decorate the Verizon Center. So where will that leave Georgetown?

First of all, conference realignment as been on overdrive over the last few years, and rumors regarding additions to the Big East are numerous. Texas Christian University has already agreed to become the 10th football-playing school in the conference next season, and Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor, Missouri and Iowa State have all engaged in talks to join the Big East. If all five schools made the move, the Big East would jump to 20 schools even after the Panthers and the Orange leave.

Such a scenario could prompt the creation of two divisions in the Big East: a western division with Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Iowa State, TCU, Baylor, DePaul, Marquette, Cincinnati and Notre Dame, and an eastern division with Georgetown, St. John’s, West Virginia, Louisville, Villanova, Connecticut, South Florida, Seton Hall, Rutgers and Providence.

The name “Big East” might not apply to such a super-conference, but injecting the likes of the Jayhawks and other perennial NCAA tournament contenders into Georgetown’s yearly schedule would more than make up for the loss of Pittsburgh and Syracuse.

Then there is the other possibility: a downsizing of the Big East. Rutgers could look to move, but Connecticut, the reigning national champion in basketball and reigning conference champion in football, has said it is staying put in the Big East. Even if the Scarlet Knights and another school like Notre Dame bolt, Georgetown is a basketball-focused school, as are St. John’s, Villanova and Marquette, and they are all likely to stay.

If the football-focused schools do choose to find more friendly television contracts in other conferences, these four, plus Providence, Seton Hall and DePaul, will stick together. While the Orange are the Hoyas’ prime rival, Villanova’s Jay Wright and St. John’s’ Steve Lavin will continue to build competitive teams for the Blue and Gray to play against during the conference season.

Additionally, Head Coach John Thompson III has had no problem putting together difficult out-of-conference schedules in the past, and if that trend continues, Georgetown will not lose much in the RPI rankings after Pittsburgh and Syracuse leave the Big East.

Story short — don’t fret the loss of the Panthers and the Orange. The Hoyas will carry on without them.

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