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College Sports in the Carolinas


View from the East
Monday, June 16, 2003

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

ACC scheme stirs backlash from ironic quarters


• Big East would provide big boost for Pirates
Football aristocracy blasted by hoops coach
Tulane president plots assault on BCS
• FSU's attention about to be diverted?
• Realignment takes back seat for Thompson
• ACC expansion train slows; ECU on radar
• Marriage counseling: That's the ticket!
• Tulane goes on offensive on dual fronts
• Banowsky defines C-USA's stance
C-USA chiefs wrap up eventful summit
BCS no barrier to Omaha for Bears
Swofford: ACC playing by the rules
Despite obstacles, UMass thinking big
Wellman: A few 12-team leagues the key
• Cards' Pitino out on limb-o about C-USA

• BCS or bust for East Carolina
• Irish hover over ACC, Miami, Big East
• SEC example proves money no cure-all
• Opposition to ACC scheme gaining steam
• ACC foray for 'crown jewel' advances
• Big East's jilted 5 gang up for future
• Herrion keeps eye on Miami's next move

• 'Sopranos' more benign than ACC syndicate
• Meetings leave big questions hanging
Tranghese sounds like "beaten man"
• Moral compass spins out of control
• Big East boss lashes out
ECU well-situated for upheavals
The Empire Strikes Back?
• Notre Dame ponders Big East role
TV markets based on bogus science
• Brave new world for ECU?
• Muse can't take wait-and-see approach
• Execs move to spawn ACC juggernaut
• Muse eyes saga from 'crow's nest'
• Is ECU prepared to navigate storm?
• Time for C-USA to revisit expansion issue

The meandering trail of a possible big move by East Carolina to the Big East Conference kept me home from church on Sunday for an 11 a.m. teleconference.

Consider this statement, which was right on target when considering ECU's interest in the Big East.

"The NCAA basketball tournament is one of the greatest things that exists in all of sports. For three weeks in March, the entire country is riveted by a basketball tournament that's open to people who qualify to get in. The Cinderella stories — any school — Marquette — a small Catholic school from Milwaukee can get into the Final Four.

"Well, you know football has created a scenario where they decide who gets in and they decide who stays out. If you're one of those schools that is a have-not, you never have a chance to ever be part of that process.

"So the conference commissioners in this country have taken football away from the general public and (away from) the people who have made the NCAA basketball tournament so great and decided you're going to play by our rules. We're going to make the rules and if we don't like the rules, we're going to change 'em to make 'em the way we want 'em and if you're one of the guys on the outside, you're always going to be on the outside."

Now, who do you think said that? Former East Carolina football coach Steve Logan? Tulane president Scott Cowen? Somebody on a message board from the Mountain West Conference?

It was a little surprising on Sunday to listen to a Big East teleconference and hear Connecticut women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma make those comments. Make that especially surprising since Auriemma's own league currently gets a hefty chunk of profits from the Bowl Championship Series and because Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese is overseeing the BCS for the 2002 and 2003 seasons.

ECU has chafed during the emergence of the BCS at what amounts to the virtual exclusion of Conference USA and its various implications.

Auriemma, who looks like singer Frankie Vallee and whose teams have won four NCAA championships, had some more choice quotes in a teleconference designed to show the effects of possible ACC expansion on women's sports in the Big East.

Auriemma's concluding point to his rant about the BCS was that no one saw the BCS coming and no one knows what changes may be forthcoming in college athletics.

"I wouldn't be surprised if there's changes over the next 10 years that we're going to look back and say we would have never dreamed of that. ... With every move that's made in that direction we're furthering the notion that ... these people aren't really in it for the student/athletes. That's not what they're doing it for.

"We talk out of both sides of our mouth," Auriemma said. "We say college athletics is really important and we really value it and we want it to be part of the university but at the same time the decisions that we make separate us completely from what the average student/athlete goes through.

"So what we're doing is for 85 football players — at the expense of the other 500 athletes that are on campus."

The discussion pointed out the power of Miami football. It helps pay for women's soccer at West Virginia. It's built restaurants in Blacksburg, Va. And it could set off a domino effect nationwide if the Hurricanes move to the ACC and bring Syracuse and Boston College with them.

"This could be devastating to our conference and to West Virginia women's soccer," said Mountaineers women's soccer coach Nikki Izzo-Bown.

Five Big East schools have filed a lawsuit against the ACC and politicians in Virginia have pressured UVa president John Casteen to vote against adding the three Big East schools.

"As to the politicians that have gotten involved it speaks to the importance of not only each academic institution but the welfare of the state as a whole as far as the economy in southwestern Virginia and how much the success of our football program has added — hotels and restaurants and businesses to this area's economy," said Hokies women's basketball coach Bonnie Henrickson.

One astute question on the teleconference involved provisions for teams to leave the conference by paying a fee. Auriemma said he wasn't aware of the contractual situation but said the best interests of student/athletes was taking a backseat in the expansion discussion process.

"No one's talking about that," he said. "... The decision right now is strictly financial."

Looking at the revenue generated by the Big 12 compared to when that league was the Big Eight and one can see why expansion in the ACC is currently a popular notion for six of its members. The Big Eight split up about $30 million prior to expansion but had about $84 million in its revenue pool for the 2001-02 scholastic year. The Southwest Conference, of course, was a casualty of the Big 12's profitability.

ECU is a possibility for Big East membership if the ACC succeeds in expansion or if the Big East adds to its current membership to reach 12 and allow a football championship game.

"The decision that the ACC presidents are going to make not only affects the ACC or the Big East, it affects potentially six or seven other conferences," Auriemma said.

For East Carolina, that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

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02/23/2007 12:40:43 AM

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