Bonesville: The Authoritative Independent Voice of East Carolina
Daily News & Features from East Carolina, Conference USA and Beyond

Mobile Alpha Roundup Daily Beat Recruiting The Seasons Multimedia Historical Data Pirate Time Machine SportByte™ Weather

School execs move to spawn ACC juggernaut

From 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 Associated Press.

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 membership ranks.

''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, Fla.

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 drastic fashion.

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 are candidates.

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 this week.

"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 time."

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.

Copyright 2003  All rights reserved.  This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press reports were used in compiling this report.

02/23/2007 10:36:25 AM

©2001-2002-2003-2004-2005-2006-2007-2008-2009-2010-2011-2012-2013 All rights reserved.
Articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files and other content originated on this site are the proprietary property of
None of the articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files or other content originated on this site may be reproduced without written permission.
This site is not affiliated with East Carolina University. View's Privacy Policy. Advertising contact: 252-349-3280; Editorial contact:; 252-444-1905.