Littlepage: ‘We firmly stand behind the Atlantic Coast Conference’

University of Virginia athletics director Craig Littlepage issued a statement Tuesday addressing rampant speculation that the school is either mulling a move from the Atlantic Coast Conference to the Big Ten or has already begun making steps toward making such a move happen.

“The University of Virginia is a proud member of the Atlantic Coast Conference,” Littlepage said in the statement, adding that “(n)either representatives of the athletics department, nor President Teresa Sullivan, has received invitations to nor sought membership in other conferences.”

“The ACC’s commitment to its members and their student-athletes is the finest in the country. We look forward to continuing this relationship far into the future. Our goal is to continue supporting the ACC and its initiatives for long-term success,” Littlepage said.

The statement comes as news hit the wires that the ACC has filed a lawsuit against the University of Maryland, which last week approved a move to the Big Ten, seeking full payment of the approximately $53 million exit fee for leaving the conference.

The ACC voted in September to raise the exit fee to an amount equal to three times the conference’s annual operating budget. Maryland and Florida State voted against the move to raise the exit fee, which came after the ACC had voted to accept Notre Dame as a member in all sports except football.

In a statement, ACC Commissioner John Swofford said the conference extends its “best wishes to the University of Maryland; however, there is the expectation that Maryland will fulfill its exit fee obligation.”

Littlepage, in his statement on the Big Ten rumors, said he has communicated UVa.’s commitment to the ACC and to Swofford, “and I want to take this opportunity to express that same commitment to our alumni, fans, supporters, student-athletes and coaches. We firmly stand behind the Atlantic Coast Conference,” Littlepage said.

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