Big East plans "up front" and "proper" expansion
[ Originally posted 06.26.03. ]
As the Atlantic Coast Conference's improvised expansion
train prepares to strain away from the station, Virginia Tech is about to
hop aboard for a ride to an unknown destination.
Miami, the passenger the railroad targeted from the beginning as its most
desirable patron, is still weighing its options, and the Big East members
the Hurricanes are contemplating leaving behind are pondering the next steps
in shoring up their future.
Meanwhile, ACC officials hinted at the inevitability that another school
would have to be lured into the loop to
round out the membership to 12 and
improve the opportunities for the renovated confederation.
Hokies officials apparently oblivious for the moment to the potential
legal ramifications of betraying their
sworn partners in a lawsuit against
the ACC can hardly wait to stamp the
documents that would seal the deal.
According to the Miami Herald, Virginia Tech moved a step closer to jumping
ship on Wednesday when its Board of Visitors authorized school president
Charles Steger to negotiate membership in the ACC on "mutually agreeable"
"As best I can tell, it's just signing the papers," John Rocovich, the
rector of the Board of Visitors, told the paper, adding that he expected the
Hokies to join the ACC in 2005-06.
Virginia Tech was one of five Big East football schools that filed a lawsuit
June 6 to try to stop Boston College, Miami and Syracuse from leaving the
Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and West Virginia were the
other parties to the suit, joined by some states attorneys general, which cited the ACC, Miami and Boston College as
That was then, this is now. So goes the thinking in Blacksburg.
VPI has reportedly removed itself as a plaintiff in the legal action against
the source of what it hopes will be its future mother lode. In a counter-move, Boston College, after being escorted to
the exit door by ACC officials, was dropped as a defendant by Big East
schools and government officials still doggedly pursuing the lawsuit.
In yet another irony piled on top of the highly-publicized
twists and turns that have characterized the improbable melodrama, the
possibility exists that BC may now take the Hokies' place as a plaintiff in
court against the conference that intensely courted the Eagles, then brushed
Miami's Board of Trustees will meet today with Donna Shalala, the school's
president, to discuss whether they will accept, reject or otherwise respond
to the ACC's formal membership invitation.
A statement issued by Shalala on Wednesday implied a positive answer to the
ACC was by no means a slam-dunk. Citing the unexpected exclusion of the two
schools Miami had counted on being a part of an expanded ACC, she indicated
the new set of circumstances would be considered.
"We are very appreciative of the invitation from the ACC to join their
conference," she said in the statement. "We are disappointed they have
decided not to extend invitations to Boston College and Syracuse. Since this
is a new proposal, we will evaluate it before making a decision."
The Boston Globe reported that officials of the remaining Big East schools
are looking to the future and plotting their best course of action.
In an apparent reference to media criticism, hard feelings
and alleged secretiveness that enveloped the ACC's expansion maneuver, the Boston paper quoted a Big East official who declared the conference's next steps would be
made in the open.
''If we do anything,'' said the unnamed athletic director, ''we're going to
be up front with everything. We'll go through all the proper channels and
see who is interested.''
The Big East must field at least eight teams in football to keep a
contractual grip on its guaranteed spot in the lucrative Bowl Championship
Series, which is not up for renewal until after the 2005 season. The ACC,
SEC, Big 12, Big Ten and PAC-10 are also members of the BCS.
If Virginia Tech and Miami bolt for the ACC, the six Big East holdovers
Syracuse, Boston College, West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Rutgers will seek
at least two new members, and possibly more, to shore up their ranks.
Louisville, East Carolina and South Florida of Conference USA and MAC member
Central Florida have been mentioned as candidates to move to the the league.
and ECU have also been speculated on as
possibilities for becoming the ACC's 12th member.
Ultimately, the Big East football schools may elect to expand by six and
split into a pair of six-team divisions in order to accommodate an NCAA-approved conference
championship game and leverage their clout for continued inclusion in the
BCS after the cartel's current pact expires.
Copyright 2003 Bonesville.net. The Associated
Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This
material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
02/23/2007 10:36:44 AM