College Sports in the Carolinas
from the East
Monday, April 21, 2003
By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News &
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
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
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
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
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
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
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02/22/2007 11:53:44 PM