Arkansas Set To Host Syracuse

The SEC, Big East and ESPN all announced Friday that Arkansas would be hosting Syracuse on Nov. 30th at Bud Walton Arena in one of the 12 SEC/Big East Challenge games, but Orange A.D. Darryl Gross - whose school is bolting for the ACC - says his school won't be making the trip.

It was announced Friday morning that Syracuse would play at Arkansas on Nov. 30 as part of the SEC/Big East Challenge, but the Orange quickly said not so fast.

In fact, Syracuse – who is leaving the Big East for the ACC – says it won't be making the trip because it has overscheduled.

That was the sentiment expressed in an e-mail sent by Syracuse athletic director Daryl Gross to Big East associate commissioner Tom Odjakjian - and later obtained by ESPN.

"I wish we could have agreement as you have put us all in what could be an embarrassing situation," Gross wrote. "We are not confirmed. I find it amazing that there is no discussion to make a better plan. We have been collegial with the Big East, yet it appears that there is no willingness to cooperate."

Gross also sent the e-mail to the other Big East schools on Thursday night saying that the Orange are "overcommitted and can't play at this point."

ESPN, which televises the 12-game event across three nights, responded with the following statement in regards to Syracuse, who was 34-3 last season and returns three of its top seven players next season.

"Consistent with past practice, we worked with both the Big East and SEC to mutually agree on the participating teams and matchups for this year's event. Both conferences have approved all of the games that were released today."

For it's part, Arkansas – 18-14 last season and with a team that return four starters and will have as many as eight new faces next season - was happy about the opportunity to host a high-profile non-conference foe at Bud Walton Arena.

"Hosting Syracuse at Bud Walton Arena gives us a chance to showcase our basketball team and fans to the nation," Arkansas Head Coach Mike Anderson said in a release. "Syracuse has great tradition and will be a highly-ranked team next season. We look forward to the challenge that this team presents."

Syracuse has gotten criticism in the past for not playing non-league road games with a game last season at North Carolina State the first since the 2008-2009 season.

Pittsburgh – the other school bolting the Big East – had saved a date for a home game in the event, but was not chosen to play.

Pitt athletic director Doug Pederson said he was blindsided.

"We were led to believe we had a home game all along," Pederson told ESPN. "They've put us in a difficult spot. All Jamie and I were waiting on was who we were playing. We're very disappointed, obviously."

Arkansas is 1-1 in the event with a 71-62 win over Seton Hall in 2010 and a 75-62 loss at UConn last season.

If the game happens, it will be only the second meeting ever between the two schools on the court with the Razorbacks downing the Orange 96-94 in 1995 in the second round of the SEC Tournament.

Syracuse and Pitt are contracted to be in the Big East through the 2013-2014 season after the league enforced a 27-month waiting period.

Other teams not included in this year's Nov. 29-Dec. 1 event were Big East schools Louisville and UConn and new SEC members Missouri and Texas A&M.

The Nov. 29 match-ups are Marquette at Florida, Seton Hall at LSU, South Carolina at St. John's and Kentucky at Notre Dame.

The other Nov. 30th games scheduled are DePaul at Auburn, Georgia at South Florida and Tennessee at Georgetown.

The final night's games are Rutgers at Ole Miss, Villanova at Vanderbilt, Mississippi State at Providence and Alabama at Cincinnati.

Arkansas' schedule already includes a home game with Oklahoma, a road game at Michigan, the Las Vegas Invitational Nov. 23-24 (Arizona State, Creighton and Wisconsin) and the new 18-game SEC slate that was approved Friday.

Each SEC team will play one permanent foe home and away each season – Arkansas' will be Missouri – four other teams home and away and then eight other teams (four home, four away).

Those eight teams will be selected at random.


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