Pitt, which is suing the Big East for the right to leave for the Atlantic Coast Conference after the 2012-13 season, was left out of the 2012 SEC-Big East Men’s Basketball Challenge for the upcoming season.
Pitt, which played at Tennessee last season in the first year of the event, is one of three Big East schools omitted from the 12-game, 24-team field, which is Nov. 29-Dec. 1. The others are Louisville, expected to have one of the top teams in the conference, and 2010-11 national champion Connecticut.
“I’m disappointed for our players because we were clearly under the impression from numerous conversations that we were in it and we were going to play a home game,” Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson told the Trib. “(Coach) Jamie (Dixon) has been holding a spot on the schedule and somebody could have told us three months ago.”
Dixon is out of town at a coaches’ clinic and could not be reached for comment.
Syracuse, which also is leaving for the ACC, was invited to play, at Arkansas on Nov. 30, but Orange athletic director Daryl Gross said the team won’t participate in the event because they are “overcommitted and can’t play at this point.”
The Big East has 15 men’s basketball teams this year, meaning three teams had to be left out. Connecticut is playing in the Jimmy V Classic instead of the SEC/Big East Challenge, and Louisville was reportedly already told by the Big East that it wouldn’t be part of the field.
First-year SEC members Missouri and Texas A&M were also left out of the event from the 14-school SEC.
“The basic premise is because there are 12 games and more than 12 teams, not everyone is able to participate,” Big East director of communications Chuck Sullivan said. “Three teams had to be out. Beyond that, I can’t say anything about it.”
When asked if there was anything political about Pitt being left out of the field, Sullivan said, “Not that I’m aware of. It was a collaborative effort was between the SEC, the Big East and ESPN.”
The snub means that Pitt, which was expecting to receive a home game against an SEC opponent, must now look to fill its spot in the 2012-13 schedule.
“We discovered the day before the announcement,” Pederson said. “We’re not included in any of the meetings having to do with the operations of the league and it made very hard for us to get any good information. On June 1, to try to find a good home game, that’s very difficult. They put us in a very difficult situation.”
Here are the complete matchups:
Thursday, Nov. 29
Kentucky at Notre Dame
Marquette at Florida
South Carolina at St. John’s
Seton Hall at LSU
Friday, Nov. 30
Syracuse at Arkansas
Tennessee at Georgetown
DePaul at Auburn
Georgia at USF
Saturday, Dec. 1
Alabama at Cincinnati
Villanova at Vanderbilt
Mississippi State at Providence
Rutgers at Mississippi