School execs move to spawn ACC juggernaut
From Bonesville.net and
Associated Press reports
AMELIA ISLAND, FL Atlantic
Coast Conference presidents finally pulled the trigger, setting off what may
become an earthquake in college athletics that could affect East Carolina.
The chief executives of the league's schools voted Tuesday
to expand, a prelude to inviting Miami and two other Big East schools to
join their nine-team league, sources familiar with the discussions told The
Shockwaves from the ACC's decision to launch the
long-rumored raid were already being felt Tuesday night. The Boston Globe
reported Ed Pastilong, athletic director of Big East member West Virginia,
was caught off guard by the move and would push to preserve his league's
''We, along with the other schools in the Big East, have
made a commitment toward a strong conference,'' Pastilong said. ''And we're
counting on others to honor their commitments."
According to the Globe story, Pastilong indicated he expects
Big East officials to develop a detailed counterproposal during meetings of
league coaches and athletic directors this weekend in Ponte Vedra Beach,
East Carolina has had an intermittent but long-running
football series with West Virginia. The next meeting between the two
programs is scheduled for Sept. 6, when the Mountaineers visit Greenville
for the Pirates' home opener.
Ironically, ECU will also play Miami next season,
challenging the Hurricanes in the Orange Bowl the Saturday after hosting WVU.
West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez is of the opinion the
ACC's foray, if successful, does not spell doom for the Big East, said the
Boston paper. He suggests the Big East can remain a viable conference by
annexing members of other leagues, the paper reported.
ECU and its fellow Conference USA members, Louisville,
Cincinnati and Memphis, have been mentioned among the likely candidates for
any Big East counter-expansion.
Miami will apparently get its ACC invitation soon, which
could set the dominos in motion. If the Hurricanes and two other teams from
the Big East accept, it may well alter the landscape of college sports in
Any ACC expansion plan would likely go into effect in 2004.
ACC commissioner John Swofford, meeting with coaches and
athletic directors in Amelia Island this week, was hesitant to call
expansion of the 50-year-old league a done deal. He knows Miami and two
other schools still must accept. Syracuse, Boston College and Virginia Tech
The sources, who spoke on condition they not be identified,
said league presidents voted 7-2 during a conference call to approve
expansion. Any expansion needed seven votes for approval.
"The conference call among the league's chancellors and
presidents this morning was another step toward completion of an ongoing
process that is not yet finalized," Swofford said. "It is not appropriate at
this time for me to share the particulars of this morning's conference call
out of respect to our own schools and to potential candidates. At this time,
no final decisions have been reached."
Miami athletic director Paul Dee said Tuesday his school was
interested, but would have to look at the specifics.
"Even if they called us and said, 'OK, you're it,' we still
have all this discussion to do with them to assure ourselves," he said. "All
they can really do is say, 'Let's talk."'
By adding three teams, the ACC would become a 12-team
superconference, a la the Southeastern Conference and the Big 12. It's a
status that all but assures the conference's long-term future, mainly
because it would give the ACC a definite role in the next football Bowl
Championship Series, due to be revamped in 2006.
Becoming a 12-team conference sets up the chance to split
into divisions and play a football title game an event that brings in
about $12 million each year for the SEC. It could also make the ACC's next
TV deal more lucrative, and could give the conference a chance at placing a
second team in the BCS and earning the $13 million payoff that goes with the
bid. The ACC has never had two teams in the BCS.
Should this expansion go through, the Big East essentially
would lose its best football teams and its future as a football conference
would be in limbo.
In most senses, it's a move done to make the country's most
storied basketball conference a bigger power in football something coaches
of both sports recognized as they met with Swofford and athletic directors
"We're open-minded enough that we want to know about the
process," North Carolina State basketball coach Herb Sendek said. "That
doesn't mean certain coaches don't have their minds made up. But to
represent this as football coaches on one side and basketball coaches on the
other isn't necessarily the case."
Coming into the week, traditional basketball powerhouses
Duke and North Carolina were thought to be against the move. Neither source
would say how the votes were cast.
The ACC, which last expanded in 1991 when it added Florida
State, now waits for Miami and the rest to make their decisions.
"We'll be deliberate," Dee said. "There's nothing that's
rushing the decision by anybody. We'll do it in the right way and the right
Among Dee's concerns will be the divisional alignment; Miami
would like to be in a division with Florida State in order to guarantee that
longstanding annual rivalry is kept alive.
Meanwhile, basketball powers especially Duke and North
Carolina will be wary of any alignment that takes away their home-and-home
series with natural rivals like Maryland and North Carolina State.
Speaking on Monday, Swofford said all that could be
negotiated at a later time.
"All we need to know is that that's all workable, if you
understand what I'm saying," Swofford said.
Dee said in order for Miami to move by 2004 without a major
financial penalty, a decision would have to be reached by June 30.
Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese was critical of the
ACC's plan in an interview last month, labeling the league's officials "a
bunch of hypocrites."
The looming meeting of Big East coaches and athletic
directors this weekend in Ponte Vedra Beach will likely be a gathering
marked by emotion and drama.
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02/23/2007 10:36:25 AM