Hokies ready; Miami unsure; Pirates politicking
[ Originally posted 06.28.03 ]
From staff and Associated Press reports
While Virginia Tech speeds along the bureaucratic highway
toward formal membership in the Atlantic Coast Conference, fellow Big East
school Miami has slowed down for a caution sign and East Carolina is trying
to plow in through the back door.
The Hokies received a formal invitation to join the ACC on
Friday and will accept, university president Charles M. Steger wrote in an
open letter to alumni.
Calling the conference "an organization of some of the
nation's most prestigious universities," Steger explained Tech's position
throughout the ACC's six-week expansion process many have likened to a soap
"We know that this affiliation will be good for our
students, athletes, fans, and communities for many years to come," he
concluded in the letter, which was made available to media covering the
The letter detailed the school's actions throughout the
process, with Steger telling alumni that he notified the Big East of the
ACC's offer to begin discussions about joining last Tuesday night, the same
night the offer was extended, and knows that Tech will be criticized for
fighting both for the Big East and for inclusion in the ACC at the same
"At the end of the day, many will disagree with our
decisions. They of course are free to do so," Steger wrote. "However, we
have dealt as best we can with a very complex changing landscape of
intercollegiate athletics to the best of our ability in difficult times."
Earlier Friday, athletic director Jim Weaver said he was
unsure all the necessary paperwork has been completed to make the move
official, but that any perceived delay does not mean the Hokies are unsure
what to do.
The process of finalizing the Hokies' letter of agreement to
join the ACC involves having it go through several administration offices,
including Steger's, and the school's lawyers, he said.
When the letter completes its review and sign route through
the offices, it will be signed, certainly by Monday morning, Weaver said.
"There's no issue of whether we will sign it," he said.
"This isn't getting done by one person. ... A lot of people are involved."
Monday is the day Miami is expected to announce its decision
on whether to accept its invitation from the ACC or remain in the Big East.
While the ACC waited for Tech and the Hurricanes to officially accept or
decline the invitations, fans of East Carolina said the league should look a
little closer to home.
ECU supporters mounted a campaign encouraging encouraging fans of the
Pirates to write to lawmakers including Gov. Mike Easley to ask for their
help in persuading the ACC to include the Greenville school in its plans.
"I haven't heard any negatives on this from colleagues I've talked to,"
said state Sen. Tony P. Moore, who wrote to Easley on Thursday, seeking his
"We'll see how the governor feels about this. We'd like to see the same
support that the governor of Virginia provided for Virginia Tech. We're the
third-largest university in the state, and we would like to be considered."
Easley spokesman Ernie Seneca said the governor received Moore's letter
but is focused on the state budget right now.
University of North Carolina Chancellor James Moeser has raised
objections to expansion in the past because of travel concerns, a point in
the Pirates' favor, according to ECU Chancellor William V. Muse.
"There would clearly be major benefits for the state of North Carolina,
tremendous benefits economically for the eastern portion of the state," Muse
said. "There are a lot of reasons why state political leaders should take an
ECU is currently a member of Conference USA, which doesn't get a Bowl
Championship Series berth in football unless it finishes in the top six in
the series standings. The ACC and the Big East are among the six leagues
with guaranteed berths in the BCS bowls.
ACC spokesman Brian Morrison said Friday the conference is
not commenting on the status of Virginia Tech's and Miami's bids to join the
league until it officially hears from the schools. He did not return a call
Friday seeking comment about the efforts on behalf of ECU to gain membership
for the rapidly growing school.
Miami and Virginia Tech must inform Big East officials by
Monday if they decide to join the ACC, obligating each to pay a $1 million
exit fee. If they wait until after Monday to leave, the fee doubles.
"We're not tied to each other, we've been told," Shalala
said, echoing what Steger said he understood on the day the invitation first
Miami's stay-or-go decision appears far less clear cut.
Shalala has expressed disappointment that the deal no longer
includes Boston College or Syracuse, schools that gave Miami a desired link
to its northeast recruiting and alumni bases. Those two schools are also
spearheading a counterproposal from the Big East to get Miami to stay.
Previously, when the ACC expansion process was just
beginning, the conference offered Miami a guaranteed $45 million over five
years to stay.
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said there
was no ruling Friday concerning the lawsuit filed by four Big East football
schools accusing the ACC and Miami of conspiring to destroy the Big East.
Copyright 2003 The Associated
Press. Bonesville.net contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This
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02/23/2007 10:36:46 AM