NC State alumni living in Pittsburgh eager for new ACC

September 21, 2011
By Bill Krueger

With this week’s news that Syracuse and Pitt will leave the Big East Conference to join the ACC, we decided to check in with some NC State alumni who live in Syracuse and Pittsburgh to get their take on the change.

The overwhelming response is positive, largely because they hope it will mean they get to see NC State football and basketball teams more often.

Today, we take a closer look at the reaction from Pittsburgh, where we heard from three NC State grads who also have some connection to the University of Pittsburgh:

michael-aubele2Michael Aubele ’99 spent two years at Pitt before transferring to NC State. But when someone asks where he went to school, Aubele says he rarely mentions Pitt. So he is thrilled at the possibility of seeing the Wolfpack play in Pittsburgh.

“I couldn’t be more excited,” Aubele said in an email. “I think joining the ACC is a smart move on Pitt’s part.

“At first I thought the move was driven solely by the basketball program. However, I had a conversation with a coworker who pointed out that it should do wonders for the football program by drawing a larger fan base to home games given the number of high-profile football teams in the ACC versus the Big East. I agreed with him on that point.”

CJ Handron ’03 moved to Pittsburgh a little over three years ago to go to graduate school at Pitt, and then stuck around because of a job opportunity and family considerations. He works as a management consultant with the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence at Pitt.

But Handron remains an avid Wolfpack fan, and is excited about Pitt’s move into the ACC.

“I couldn’t be happier about the Pitt to the ACC move, though it is partially for selfish reasons of getting to see more Wolfpack games (and other familiar ACC teams) in person as well as on TV,” Handron wrote in an email.

Handron and other Wolfpack alumni in the area said NC State and other ACC teams will find that Pittsburgh is a great sports town.

“Good for NC State to gain some exposure in a new market, as the school is relatively unknown around Pittsburgh,” Handron said.

Tim Banyas ’00 MS was born and raised in Pittsburgh, but came to NC State for graduate school before returning to Pittsburgh. He follows the Wolfpack and Pitt, and says the ACC will be stronger with the two Big East teams.

“Once Pitt and Syracuse officially join the ACC, it will be the best basketball conference in the land, without a doubt,” Banyas wrote in an email. “It is also good from a football perspective. I believe Pitt’s football program is on the rise and this will further strengthen ACC football.”

Banyas says the response to the news in Pittsburgh has been extremely positive and that Pitt alumni “can’t wait for the opportunity to play the elite ACC teams in basketball.”

Ryann Barr ’06 has mixed emotions about the move. Barr is originally from Pittsburgh and returned to Pitt for graduate school after getting her undergraduate degree from NC State. She teaches English at a high school in suburban Pittsburgh.

Barr says she has become a Panthers fan because news about Pitt basketball and football teams is more readily available where she lives. (“But I look better in Red and White,” she wrote in an email.) She loves the finesse of ACC basketball, but also appreciates what she calls the “work-horse” style of Big East basketball.

Barr says she is eager to see what rivalries develop as Pitt enters the ACC. “It is obvious the basketball rivalries already present in the ACC, but where will Pitt fall?” Barr said. “Will they need to prove themselves as a threat against the big bad ACC before the rivalry can be finalized? Or will they be the new kid in town who everyone has their eye on and take on the role of ‘everyone’s rival?'”

ryannbarr3Barr says her loyalties may be divided at times.

“Truthfully, I am torn and I have actually been contemplating this question,” she wrote. “Who is your team? Should I just buy a half Wolfpack/half Panthers jersey now?

“I will cheer for Pitt. I will cheer for State. But when they play each other, I will be baffled. My body will be in Pittsburgh (I would like to remind you that we take our sports very serious here) but my heart will always bleed red and white.”

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