PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — To hard core Pitt football fans, the rivalry with West Virginia is the pinnacle of the year.

“Personally I would hope that that would stay intact because it’s good for college football,” Pitt head football coach Todd Graham said.

But there are no guarantees as Pitt leaves WVU and the Big East behind for the coastal waters of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“We’re excited. I don’t know when it will be, but we’re excited,” Pitt Basketball Coach Jamie Dixon said.

On the Pitt campus, graduate student Stephania Hartmen believes, “We will be playing better teams. We’ll be playing teams that if we win will help recognize us as the great school that we are.”

In basketball, the already strong Panther program joins historic powerhouses like Duke and North Carolina. Those two teams alone have won the ACC title 14 of the last 15 years.

We’re going to try – I’ll tell you that, we’re going to try and we’re going to do our best but we didn’t have a good shot,” Dixon said. “We’ve got a better chance now than we have the last 15 years let’s put it that way.”

Meanwhile, over on the football side of the athletic department, Coach Graham says Pitt will gain prestige, and a recruiting edge as an ACC school.

He’s confident the gridiron Panthers can compete with ACC established programs like the Seminoles of Florida State, Maryland’s Terrapins and the Virginia Tech Hokies.

“I can tell you this we’re going to build a championship program,” Graham said. “We have the resources and opportunity to do that and I expect us to be extremely competitive.”

The Big East requires departing schools to wait 27 months to jump conferences, but Pitt plans to ask for an early waiver so they can start ACC play sometime next year.

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