ACC, Big East caught in eye of the Hurricanes
[ Originally posted 06.30.03 ]
Associated Press report with staff contributions
MIAMI A university president in southern Florida will
reveal a verdict this afternoon that will profoundly influence the
competitive postures of two of the nation's premier intercollegiate athletic
After a seven-week courtship, one unresolved courtroom
battle and last-ditch offers from the league that has them and the league
that wants them, an answer is finally near to Miami's million-dollar
question: Will the Hurricanes stay in the Big East or accept an invitation
to join the Atlantic Coast Conference?
Miami president Donna Shalala was expected to announce the
school's decision at 4 p.m. today, the last day university officials can buy
their way out of the Big East by paying a $1 million penalty. If Miami makes
its plans known Tuesday or later, it could face a $2 million buyout.
Shalala and athletic director Paul Dee continued
negotiations with both Big East and ACC officials through the weekend.
Syracuse chancellor Kenneth Shaw and athletic director Jake
Crouthamel have been in regular contact with Miami's leaders over the
weekend, Syracuse spokesman Kevin Morrow said Sunday.
"Phone lines have been burning up around the Big East the
past several days," Morrow said. "There's been a lot of conversations among
the Big East presidents with the intentions of putting together a very
strong proposal to keep Miami."
Morrow said he had received no indications of what Miami's
decision may be.
"I don't know the last time people in Syracuse rooted for
Miami, but there's going to be a lot of people here doing that on Monday,"
Virginia Tech, which was a late addition to the expansion
saga, has already said it will accept the invitation it received last week
to leave the Big East and join the ACC.
Several Miami officials and trustees declined comment or did
not respond to messages left throughout the weekend. ACC spokesman Brian
Morrison said Sunday that league officials haven't been made aware of
Big East spokesman John Paquette said Sunday that Miami has
not made its intentions known to conference officials, adding that the
league also has not received formal word from Virginia Tech, another
perennial Big East football power, about its future affiliation.
ACC presidents voted May 13 to begin a process by which
their nine-school league would expand to 12, largely so it could add a
conference football championship game, one that would raise $12 million or
Three days later, they announced their targets: Miami,
Boston College and Syracuse.
But after a six-week process, Boston College and Syracuse
were not extended formal invitations a surprising twist because ACC
officials had never before made a site visit to expansion prospects without
extending an offer to join the conference.
"We were told by some the site visit was merely a formality.
. . . We were told Boston College was a perfect fit for the Atlantic Coast
Conference," Boston College athletic director Gene DeFilippo said last week.
Spurned by the ACC, Boston College and Syracuse began
leading an effort to keep Miami in the Big East. Miami officials had already
received a $45 million, five-year guarantee to stay with their current
conference; another proposal, spearheaded by the two schools the ACC
declined, arrived in Miami Thursday.
"Since it came from Syracuse and Boston College, we are
particularly obligated to give it a thoughtful response," Shalala said.
Shalala was also asked by university trustees Thursday to
provide a clear indicator of what a move to an 11-team ACC would mean
financially. Without a lucrative football title game, the ACC's projected
revenues change dramatically from what Miami officials had originally been
Shalala said last week that Miami had made financial
projections for a number of different scenarios but not one in which it
and Virginia Tech were the lone additions to the ACC.
Whatever Miami announces Monday, the legal wrangling over
expansion will not be over.
A lawsuit filed in Connecticut contends Big East members
Connecticut, Rutgers, West Virginia and Pittsburgh have spent millions on
their football programs based on presumed loyalty from the other schools.
Virginia Tech was originally among the plaintiffs, but it
was removed from the case after its invitation to join the ACC came last
week. Boston College and Miami were the original defendants; Miami now is
the lone defendant, accused of participating in a conspiracy intended to
weaken the Big East.
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said the
lawsuit seeks to "protect the Big East." Shalala said Miami's decision will
not, in any way, be based on the lawsuit.
Regardless of the destination Miami chooses and no matter
what the outcome of the courtroom maneuvers, other conferences are likely to
be affected by the fallout of what many see as the beginning of a
potentially massive realignment of schools and their league affiliations.
Copyright 2003 The Associated
Press. Bonesville.net contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This
material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
02/23/2007 10:36:47 AM