Beleaguered league's meetings leave big questions hanging
By The Associated Press
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. The Big East meetings ended
Tuesday much like they began: with Miami mulling a decision that will shape
the future of the conference and college athletics, and everyone else
waiting for the answer.
Miami athletic director Paul Dee said he heard some "new
ideas'' during the four-day meetings, which focused primarily on the
Atlantic Coast Conference's attempt to lure the Hurricanes, Syracuse and
Boston College away from the Big East.
Now Dee will take those ideas back to university president
Donna Shalala for consultation and consideration.
"This has become much more complicated,'' Dee said. "It's not black and
white. ... We came here with an open mind, we came here to listen and we've
done a lot of discussion. It's been productive. Those are not just empty
Dee said there was no timetable for making a decision.
"You have to do things in a reasonable amount of time or it
dies under its own weight,'' he said. "The sooner you can get everything
done and get a decision made to move on, the better.''
Dee had little response to Big East commissioner Mike
Tranghese's words from Monday, when he questioned Miami's integrity for
considering leaving the conference that gave the Hurricanes a home in 1991
when nobody else wanted them.
"Just go look at the record the last 12 years,'' Dee said.
Tranghese ripped Miami officials during a 30-minute news
conference Monday, asking Shalala to honor her commitment to the Big East
and recognize how drastically a move could harm college sports.
The commissioner 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, most recently, became a powerhouse
in several sports.
A few hours later, at a Big East dinner, Rutgers athletic
director Robert Mulcahy stood up and proposed a toast to Tranghese. He
received a standing ovation.
"I think maybe some people perceived we were just going to
sit back and let them walk out,'' Mulcahy said. "We're not doing that.''
The conference held its longest session of the meetings
Tuesday, then broke a day early after spending most of the four days
addressing, assessing and analyzing the most obvious topic how to keep
Miami from moving to the ACC.
With television revenue one of Miami's biggest concerns, the
Big East brought a television consultant to the final day of meetings.
Athletic directors termed the discussions productive. None, though, gave
details of what was said.
They left the meetings with mixed feelings about whether
they might have impacted Miami's decision.
"My optimism gauge changes from day to day, but I feel as
good as one could feel at this point,'' West Virginia athletic director Ed
Said Pittsburgh executive vice chancellor Jerry Cochran,
attending in place of new AD Jeff Long: "I feel the same way today as I did
when I walked in here Friday.''
After nearly 20 hours of closed-door meetings, only Miami
officials really know if it will make a difference and keep the Big East
"We have more work that has to be done,'' Dee said.
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02/23/2007 10:36:30 AM