Syracuse University and the University of Pittsburgh, two bedrock members of the Big East Conference, are engaged in talks about joining the Atlantic Coast Conference, according to a person with direct knowledge of the talks.



No one from Pittsburgh, Syracuse or the A.C.C. denied the conversations were taking place. Officials from all three entities declined to comment on the matter.

The person with knowledge of the talks declined to speculate on a timetable or the seriousness of the discussions. But in this delicate time for conferences and their futures, the discussions between the 12-team A.C.C. and two Big East members are significant.

The discussions show how the trend toward 16-team super conferences, which has concerned many college athletic officials, appears to be inching closer to reality. If Syracuse and Pittsburgh switch, the move will be difficult for the Big East to overcome.

Syracuse is a founding member, and Pittsburgh joined the league in 1982, three years after it formed.

The Pittsburgh chancellor, Mark Nordenberg, who is widely credited with saving the Big East after Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech moved to the A.C.C. in the early 2000s, twice declined comment when reached at his home.

Syracuse Athletic Director Daryl Gross, when reached on his cellphone in Los Angeles, where the Orange will play Southern California on Saturday, also declined to comment. “I can’t comment on that,” Gross said. “Maybe that’s even too much to say.”

“We’ve been dealing with the fluidity of the conference landscape on multiple levels for a week,” said Amy Yakola, the A.C.C.’s associate commissioner for public relations and marketing, “and at this point we wouldn’t be able to comment on speculation.”

Big East Commissioner John Marinatto declined comment when reached on his cellphone.

Jim Boeheim, the longtime Syracuse basketball coach, said Friday night, “I wouldn’t be surprised by anything, but I don’t know anything right now.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/17/sp...r=1&ref=sports