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Big East boss lashes out at ACC-Miami slow dance

By The Associated Press

 PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — If Miami leaves the Big East, it would be the "most disastrous blow to intercollegiate athletics in my lifetime," conference commissioner Mike Tranghese said Monday.

In an impassioned news conference during which he conceded his league was in crisis, Tranghese denounced the Atlantic Coast Conference's scheme to add Big East schools Miami, Boston College and Syracuse to its current nine-team membership.

He questioned the ACC's claim that a move would be financially beneficial to the Hurricanes. He challenged the integrity of Miami — essentially calling on school president Donna Shalala to live up to an implicit agreement made when the school joined the conference 13 years ago.

"At the end of the day, President Shalala is going to have to look at the issues we've talked about, have to look at financial obligations, have to look at integrity issues," Tranghese said. "And then she's going to have to factor in the irreparable harm that's going to be caused to members of my league.

"Aside from that, and this will sound self-serving, this will be the most disastrous blow to intercollegiate athletics in my lifetime. It's wrong."

Tranghese implored Miami and the other two schools to appreciate the history of a conference that began in 1979, helped revive college basketball on the East Coast and became a powerhouse in several sports.

He called on Shalala and Miami athletic director Paul Dee to closely examine the financial packages before they make a decision that could essentially break up the conference and create what he believes would be a harmful domino effect.

Athletic directors at Boston College and Syracuse both admitted Miami's decision would have a major effect on theirs.

"Certainly Miami is the lead dog," Boston College athletic director Gene DeFilippo said. "Because of their football program that's the case and always has been."

Tranghese said his conference's accomplishments shouldn't be so quickly dismissed.

The league has placed three teams in the national football title game in the last four years. Syracuse just won the men's basketball title and Big East members Connecticut and Notre Dame have won the last four women's basketball championships.

"And I've got to come here and talk about this," Tranghese said. "My people are fighting for their lives. Are they frustrated? Are they angry? Of course. Those are obvious emotions."

Officials from the ACC were not immediately available to comment.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press.  All rights reserved.  This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

02/23/2007 10:36:28 AM

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