ACC schools say they're united

The Atlantic Coast Conference presidents said Thursday any speculation about additional member schools leaving the league is "totally false."

Because of nonstop speculation concerning ACC members moving to other leagues, the ACC's 15 presidents issued a statement reaffirming their commitment.

The statement was initiated by the presidents of Florida State (Eric Barron), Clemson (James Barker), Georgia Tech (Bud Peterson), North Carolina (Holden Thorp) and Virginia Tech (Charles Steger) -- whose schools have been the most speculated targets of the Big Ten or Big 12 conferences.

All 15 presidents, including future members Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Louisville, unanimously agreed on issuing the statement and the language of it.

The ACC's vow of solidarity comes a month after Maryland announced it was leaving the ACC for the Big Ten. Maryland officials have said they don't feel they have to pay the full $52 million exit fee, a stance that Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman agreed with Wednesday.

Perlman said Wednesday he thought the exit fee was "not enforceable."

However, the ACC has filed a lawsuit against Maryland to ensure it pays the full exit fee.

Also on Wednesday, Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis said there were advantages to the Big Ten expanding even more, from 14 schools to 16.

Hollis would not name specific candidates, but acknowledged they would not be in the Big Ten's current footprint. The most speculated targets of the Big Ten have been ACC schools Georgia Tech, Virginia and North Carolina, while Florida State and Clemson have been speculated as Big 12 targets.

Asked about future expansion Thursday, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said 14 teams is good for the conference, saying the league was "inactive but alert."

The full text of the ACC's statement was as follows:

"We, the undersigned presidents of the Atlantic Coast Conference, wish to express our commitment to preserve and protect the future of our outstanding league. We want to be clear that the speculation about ACC schools in negotiations or considering alternatives to the ACC are totally false. The presidents of the ACC are united in our commitment to a strong and enduring conference. The ACC has long been a leader in intercollegiate athletics, both academically and athletically, and the constitution of our existing and future member schools will maintain the ACC's position as one of the nation's premier conferences."