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College Sports in the Carolinas


View from the East
Monday, April 21, 2003

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

ACC raid on Big East could shake up C-USA


An accusation last week from Big East Conference commissioner Mike Tranghese and a denial from Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford could possibly have implications for Conference USA.

Tranghese expressed his displeasure in Wednesday’s New York Daily News that the ACC had approached Big East schools about shifting their league affiliation. Tranghese said Miami, Syracuse, Boston College and Virginia Tech had been ACC targets.

“I have no use for the ACC right now,” Tranghese told the New York paper. “They’re a bunch of hypocrites. They operate in the dark. They’ll never acknowledge this, but I’m aware that the ACC for the last couple of years, without ever picking up the phone or calling me, has basically gone out and tried to convince our teams to enter their league.

“They have already made two presentations to the University of Miami — and have been turned down — but they continue to come back, hoping to get the right answer. They’ve gone to Syracuse, Boston College and Virginia Tech.”

While Tranghese’s comments came off like a hothead on a Jerry Springer show, the ACC sought to diffuse the situation and did so with a great deal more grace.

Swofford reportedly spoke with Tranghese on Thursday and issued an 11-sentence statement. The ACC commissioner said expansion had been a topic of discussion in the ACC but denied any improper contact with any Big East schools.

“Reacting publicly to informal conversations and rumors serves no purpose,” Swofford said. “I will say that no offers have been made since Florida State joined the league.”

Swofford termed the comments from Tranghese “unfortunate” and it does seem the Big East commissioner elected to do some dirty laundry in the Big Apple tabloid. He could have approached Swofford privately with any concerns. That would have been proper protocol. Tranghese lost executive style points.

Although there has been speculation about the ACC expanding over the years, the league hasn’t added anyone since the Seminoles brought the ACC’s membership to nine in 1991. The Big East has eight members in football and 14 in other sports.

The television markets for Miami, Syracuse and Boston College would be the most appealing among those in the Big East to the ACC. And if, for speculation, those institutions were to shift to the ACC, the Big East might look to Conference USA to restock its membership.

ECU’s prospects for membership in a BCS conference was one of the areas evaluated by consultant Gene Corrigan at the request of East Carolina chancellor William Muse when the former NCAA president and ex-ACC commissioner did his study of ECU athletics late last year.

The viability of a school gaining membership in a league such as the Big East is determined to a large extent by its revenue-generating potential for the league. More simply, it’s the number of television sets which an institution’s teams may command in a particular market.

If the ACC were to add three teams from the Big East and qualify under NCAA guidelines to have a football championship — as the SEC or Big 12 does, then the Big East might find the television markets of C-USA members Louisville, Cincinnati and Memphis appealing replacements.

ECU’s television market — the demograhics of Eastern North Carolina — doesn’t appear to make the Pirates a major player in terms of its theoretical desirability to the Big East. Corrigan essentially expressed that to Muse.

Corrigan said ECU should continue its broad-based approach toward increasing athletic competitiveness — indicating that he felt that was the best means to improve the desirability of the Pirates in terms of consideration for future conference alignments.

It shouldn’t be construed that ECU is looking to jump. Muse just wanted to know how his institution might best position itself for the future.

Conference USA is a great fit for the Pirates, although in its history ECU has seldom been satisfied with the status quo.

Marquette’s appearance in the Final Four strengthened Conference USA’s already impressive men’s basketball credentials. There is plenty of room for the Pirates to grow in C-USA and the league has a bright upside as a whole.

C-USA has mulled expansion itself to reach 12 teams for football but that doesn’t appear to be an issue that will be acted on immediately. 

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02/22/2007 11:53:44 PM


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