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  1. #1

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    Thumbs down VaTech & Miami Officially Invited By The ACC

    ESPN.com article :

    The Atlantic Coast Conference ended its six-week expansion saga Wednesday by inviting only Miami and Virginia Tech to leave the Big East and join its league.

    "These two institutions represent and share the values for which the ACC has long been known,'' said Clemson president James F. Barker, head of the league's Council of Presidents. "We feel they will be a great addition to our family.''

    Miami and Virginia Tech are the Big East's two dominant football schools, and the move to go to 11 schools wasn't one of the many scenarios presented since the ACC's vote to expand on May 13.

    What About Football?
    The memberships of both the ACC and the Big East have reason to be unhappy with the invitations to Virginia Tech and Miami, which suggests that this must be a reasonable compromise. The ACC has handled its expansion with all the political grace of Barney Fife. The Big East's rekindled hopes that it might escape this assault having lost only Miami were dashed.

    The compromise does not finish business. The suit against the ACC by Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Rutgers and Connecticut remains intact, even if Virginia Tech will no longer be a plaintiff. Even if it were thrown out tomorrow, it served its purpose for the Big East.

    Virginia Tech must be excited. The invitation to join the ACC is a plus in many ways -- the regional rivalries, the lower costs in non-revenue sports (more bus rides, fewer plane rides). The only place where life gets tougher for the Hokies is between the sidelines. If Virginia Tech remained in the Big East, it would have taken over Miami's role as BMIC: Big Man In Conference. The road to the BCS would be a lot shorter and have a fresh coat of asphalt. Instead, the Hokies have bought themselves annual games against Florida State, Maryland and North Carolina State, and they will still see Miami.

    Take Ohio State and Michigan out of the Big Ten, or USC and Washington out of the Pac-10, and you have life as the Big East is about to know it. Without Miami and Virginia Tech, which have won the last four conference championships, the league has suffered a blow. But the seven remaining teams include some historic rivalries, and maintain the bones of a viable conference. Given the uncertainty that has dogged the league for the last several weeks there must be a palpable sense of relief in Morgantown and Storrs, Chestnut Hill and New Brunswick.

    -- ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel

    Boston College and Syracuse, which also were candidates for expansion, were left behind in the Big East.

    A source close to the expansion talks told ESPN.com's Andy Katz that the plan calls for the revamped ACC to play 16 league basketball games within one division, and there is a chance of teams playing 18 league games. The source added that there is no chance teams would play 20 league games.

    An 11-team conference might have been a sticking point for Miami. The school had some financial concerns about joining the conference without Northeast schools Boston College and Syracuse or a guarantee of a football championship game.

    But a source within the ACC told Katz that the conference told Miami officials that it is easier to go from 11 to 12 schools than nine to 12, indicating that the ACC will likely want to have an even number of teams within the next 3-4 years.

    Barker said the invitation to Virginia Tech, a dark horse candidate that was added last week at the insistence of Virginia, was "subject to final completion of the conference bylaw requirements'' -- a site visit that was under way Wednesday in Blacksburg, Va.

    Virginia Tech's governing board, meeting earlier Wednesday, unanimously authorized president Charles Steger to negotiate a deal with the ACC. Voting at a hastily called meeting in Roanoke, Va., the Board of Visitors gave Steger the authority to make the decision himself, and he said he was "inclined to accept'' the offer.

    The Hokies are expected to accept their invitation possibly as early as Wednesday night, ESPN.com has learned.

    Virginia Tech wants to be a member of the same conference as Virginia, much like a North Carolina State/North Carolina pairing. Tech's move to the ACC is considered a slam dunk for the university's non-revenue sports because at least half of the ACC's campuses are within driving distance from Blacksburg.

    As for the Hurricanes, Miami President Donna Shalala said school officials were disappointed that Boston College and Syracuse weren't included.

    "Since this is a new proposal, we will evaluate it before making a decision,'' she said. Athletic director Paul Dee added it may take a few days for Miami to decide.

    ESPN.com has learned that a meeting of University of Miami officials will be held Thursday, and will include Dee, university president Donna Shalala and coaches and administrators within the Miami athletic department. It is unclear whether Shalala will announce a decision on her own or open up the expansion invite for discussion with the staff.

    Are you riled up about the ACC-Big East debate?

    If you have a strong opinion about the conference battle, we want to hear from you. Go register your opinion at SportsNation.

    ACC commissioner John Swofford said he didn't expect any problems with the invitation to either school, "but that's in their hands.''

    Boston College issued a statement that said the Big East was discussing future conference configurations among all of its members. It noted that Miami and Virginia Tech are included in those discussions, which is likely to mean that that Big East is making the would-be defectors a counterproposal to keep them from bolting.

    The statement said the schools will address "those issues that have caused several Big East institutions to consider conference withdrawal.''

    Syracuse spokesman Kevin Morrow said the school was "disappointed that a decision like this was made.''

    Morrow said Syracuse would work with the Big East to "help it become an even stronger conference.''

    "We have faced challenges before, and we've always been up to the task. We will be again,'' Morrow said.

    Swofford refused to give the voting breakdown on expansion, though he said there were not enough votes for a plan to add only Miami.

    "I think the Big East will recover,'' Swofford said. "It isn't an acquisition, it isn't a takeover because the only way we can grow is if schools want to come join us by choice. I think it's been very misrepresented in some quarters.''

    The ACC presidents voted to expand on May 13, and conference officials visited Miami, Boston College and Syracuse to assess their facilities. Virginia Tech came into the picture last week, as part of a compromise suggested by Virginia president John T. Casteen III.

    Virginia Tech was one of five Big East football schools that filed a lawsuit June 6 to try to stop BC, Miami and Syracuse from leaving the conference. Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and West Virginia were the other parties to the suit.

    As part of their Wednesday statement, the Big East presidents said they were prepared to dismiss Boston College as a defendant from the lawsuit, and that they were notified that Virginia Tech has withdrawn as a plaintiff.

    Earlier, Connecticut president Philip Austin said Virginia Tech did not participate Wednesday in a conference call among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Austin would not say what was discussed on the call.

    "Until we get a better sense, an accurate sense, we have no comment,'' he said. "My objective since day one has been to keep the Big East together as we know it.''

    A Connecticut judge is scheduled to hear preliminary arguments Thursday in the suit.

    Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said a preliminary hearing will proceed as scheduled Thursday to determine venue and scheduling.

    However, Virginia Tech's invitation to the ACC quickly changed the legal lineup.

    "Obviously, the situation is very fluid in alignments and alliances of different schools,'' Blumenthal said. "And the question of which institutions will ultimately side with which conferences remains unsettled.''

    Blumenthal would not comment on Virginia Tech's departure from the lawsuit.

    In Tallahassee, Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist said Tuesday he was prepared to intervene on behalf of Miami in the suit. Crist said Miami has the right to choose the conference it wants to play in.

    "This is a fundamental dispute among athletic conferences and universities,'' said Crist, who was asked by Miami to intercede. "Universities have the right to join any conference that invites them. The law does not compel Miami, or any institution, to rebuff a legitimate overture, as long as existing contractual obligations are satisfied.''

    If the ACC expands to 11 members, it would be one short of the number necessary to hold a football conference championship game.

    The ACC could seek a waiver of the requirement, but Steve Mallonee, the NCAA's Division I associate chief of staff, said Wednesday he was unaware of any such request.

    Mallonee said no conference has asked for a waiver since the rule was added in 1987.

    "The conference has to give reasons why the administrative rules committee should set aside the rule,'' Mallonee said. "Legislation is generally the better route. They have until July 15 to submit a legislative change.''

    Tuesday's conference call was the fifth time in two weeks that the presidents met via phone as they tried to finalize possible expansion. Such an expansion could lead to a lucrative conference football title game and television contract.

    Any school leaving the Big East will have to pay a $1 million penalty, and that amount doubles if the school leaves after June 30.

    Information from The Associated Press and ESPN.com senior writer Andy Katz was used in this report.

    ================================================== =====

    Ummmm... I'm left speechless. This just flat out makes no sense at all.

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  3. #2
    So am I Iggy, I cant VT will ditch us like this

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  4. #3

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    Well it'll still be a few weeks before we know if Miami or VaTech will accept their offers so can't quite badmouth VaTech just yet.

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  5. #4

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    So I guess they have to change the name from BIG East.... what shall it be? ;)

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  6. #5
    They probally will because of the money, its all about the money now a days.

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  7. #6
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    The Big East will go ahead with their plans to expand to 16....

    If this all goes through, don't expect to hear anything from VT and Miami until after June 30th, which means if they decide to join, it won't take effect until the 2005 season....

    Rumor out of the ACC is that when they go after a 12th team, it will either be ECU or South Carolina, because of Lou Holtz. But considering that SC left the ACC once before, I'm not sure that USC will be asked to join....

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  8. #7

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    The ACC is asking to take another huge PR hit. VaTech will be so frowned upon becase they suid a conference and then left for it. I'm not convinced VaTech is going to accept the offer.

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