College Sports in the Carolinas
from the East
Monday, June 16, 2003
By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News &
ACC scheme stirs backlash from
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.
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
"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
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
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
"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
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
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