NEW YORK - Orange men's basketball coach Jim Boeheim helped usher in a new era of Syracuse Athletics Monday. The Hall-of-Fame head coach was part of a contingent of ACC dignitaries that rang the closing bell at NASDAQ this afternoon to commemorate Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame's first day in the conference.
Boeheim was joined by Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer, Pittsburgh alum and current NFL All-Pro wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher, Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Brey and ACC commissioner John Swofford for the event.
Prior to ending the day's stock trading, the group participated in a round-table style press conference on the second floor of NASDAQ in Times Square.
As the senior-most head coach of any sport at Syracuse, Boeheim's longevity gives him a unique perspective on the Orange's new home in the ACC. Especially as it pertains to basketball.
"The ACC was the premier basketball league when I started in coaching and it has stayed there consistenly for 40 years," Boeheim said. "Now it has gotten better. I think everybody is looking forward to the games: the Syracuse-Duke game, the Syracuse-North Carolina game. All these games are games that will quickly become a great game in college basketball that particular year.
"It's new. It's exciting. We are very proud to be part of this league."
In addition to Boeheim, several Syracuse University representatives were on hand to celebrate the milestone. Orange Director of Athletics Dr. Daryl Gross and former All-American Don McPherson, along with department staff members, supporters and alums were all there to mark the occasion.
For Gross, Monday was the culmination of years of hard work and planning that positioned Syracuse to be invited to join the ACC back in 2011.
"I think it's great. We've been planning for this for a long time, obviously," Gross said. "For it to finally come to fruition, and we're in the league now officially, it feels really good. I think we'll look back on this as one of the most historic days in Syracuse University history."
The move to the ACC only builds on the tremendous momentum already enjoyed by the entire athletic department. Syracuse posted its highest overall finish in the NACDA Directors' Cup standings (39th) this past season. In men's sports, the Orange tied for ninth in the Capital One Cup standings on the strength of the basketball team's run to the Final Four and the lacrosse's team's NCAA championship game appearance.
In addition, it was fitting that today's introductory events were held in New York City where Syracuse has successfully established itself as New York's College Team. To that end, the Orange spirit squad and Otto helped celebrate the day by making appearances at 'Good Morning America,' 'The Today Show,' Yankee Stadium, the Empire State Building and other Gotham landmarks.
For the ACC, the addition of the three schools solidifies its position as the top conference in America in terms of both athletics and academics. It's a fact that was not lost on Swofford as he presided over the festivities.
"The ACC's 15 member institutions rank first among BCS conferences in the latest U.S. News and World Report's 'Best Colleges' list by any measure," Swofford said.
Swofford also lauded the conference's opportunities for growth in the years to come.
"It's projected by 2030 that 55 percent of the U.S. population will lie within the ACC footprint. Our marketplace opportunities, along with the population numbers, both current and projected, give the ACC enormous potential as a conference over the next 15 years and beyond," Swofford said.
Now that the Orange is in the conference the games can begin. Syracuse's first ACC contest is the men's soccer team's Sept. 6 match at Virginia Tech. The Orange football team kicks off league play at home against Clemson on Oct. 5.