The future of one of college basketball's premier rivalries may not be as bleak as it seemed last March after the final Big East game between Syracuse and Georgetown.
Syracuse athletic director Daryl Gross said Wednesday night on his radio show on TK99 the Orange have agreed in principle to a 10-year basketball contract with Georgetown and are waiting for a response from the Hoyas. Associate athletic director Joe Giansante later clarified to the Syracuse Post-Standard that no official contract has been signed but corroborated that the Orange has agreed to the "concept" of the series.
Giansante told the Post-Standard that Syracuse believes Georgetown is open to the idea of a non-conference series, but so far there has been no public response from the Hoyas. An email sent Thursday morning to a Georgetown spokesman seeking clarification on the Hoyas' position was not immediately returned.
UPDATE: Georgetown coach John Thompson III released a statement Thursday evening indicating nothing has been finalized yet but he's confident the Hoyas will continue to play the Orange in the future.
"We have a re-launched conference, a new commissioner, and a new television partner with Fox Sports," Thompson said. "As soon as we get a grasp on what our future mandated out-of-conference obligations will be and those time frames, the details with Syracuse will be finalized. This is a series that will happen."
Assuming both Syracuse and Georgetown are on board and a longterm agreement can be struck in the near future, that would be terrific news for a sport that has lost too many marquee rivalry games in recent years as a result of conference realignment.
Kansas and Missouri are at an impasse after the Tigers bolted for the SEC. Duke won't play Maryland after the Terps head to the Big Ten in 2014. And Pittsburgh has shown little interest in renewing its Backyard Brawl rivalry with West Virginia since the two parted ways a year ago.
If there's one rivalry in need of saving more than any of the others, it might be Syracuse-Georgetown. Nearly every game between the two schools has been tinged with Big East and national implications and heartfelt emotion, few more so than Georgetown's 61-39 rout of Syracuse in the final regular season matchup between the two last season.
One Georgetown fan waved a poster that read "Officially Closed" with checkmarks next to "Manley" and "Dome." Another brandished a sign with "If you can't beat 'em, go to the ACC" scrawled on it. And the Georgetown alumni group, the Stonewalls, unveiled a 52-foot soccer-style tifo banner featuring the slogan "Our hatred is eternal" with a picture of Jack the Bulldog slicing up Otto the Orange in the middle.
Scenes like that appeared to be a thing of the past six months ago. Now there's hope that the series may yet live on even if both schools will be in different leagues.