RALEIGH, N.C. — Three days after voting to expand the Atlantic Coast Conference from nine teams to 12, the league's presidents and chancellors voted Friday on which three teams to invite.
As expected, they voted to invite three teams from the Big East Conference. Virginia Tech, however, was not one of the three.
No invitations have been extended yet. But when and if they are, they will go to Miami, Syracuse and Boston College.
Miami and Syracuse have been considered locks to receive an invitation ever since the ACC schools voted by a 7-2 count Tuesday to expand. Boston College and Virginia Tech each had their supporters, as well, but Friday's vote officially ruled out Virginia Tech.
"Our member institutions reached an agreement to begin formal discussions with Boston College, the University of Miami and Syracuse University to join the Alantic Coast Conference," said Clemson president James Barker, chairman of the Council of Presidents. "These three institutions represent and share the values for which the ACC has long been known."
North Carolina State athletic director Lee Fowler said the ACC is in a great position to pursue expansion, having started exploring the possiblility more than a year ago.
"It's defensive as much as it is aggressive," Fowler said. "That's important to do that because you can't be left out in the future."
Fowler said he and the other ADs have looked over hundreds of scenarios about which schools would play in what division after the ACC expands.
"Nothing's been decided," Fowler said, "because realistically, the three teams that come in would be involved in that process also."
Virginia reportedly had voted for expansion on the condition that Virginia Tech be one of the schools added. Virginia Gov. John Warner also had been lobbying hard for the Hokies, even calling on North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley and Maryland's governor to assist his effort.
From a geographical standpoint, Virginia Tech seemed a good addition. It has a strong rivalry with ACC member Virginia and is in an area with a lot of ACC fans and media.
But Boston College appeared the better pick from an economic standpoint. The Boston market would be a new market for the ACC and offers the league a chance to gain more national stature and exposure.
It was unknown Friday if Virginia vetoed expansion without the Hokies. But WRAL has learned that Duke and Carolina changed their votes.
Tuesday, the Devils and the Tar Heels voted against expansion. But Friday, Duke and UNC joined the ranks in support of expanding to 12 teams in the ACC if the expansion included Miami, Syracuse and Boston College.
"We were not in favor of expansion," Duke president Nannerl Keohane said. "But since the decision to expand has now been made, we decided that we wish to be part of framing the outcome and to join with our partners in the conference in making this step as positive as possible for everyone involved.
"Most of the comments in the press have been about the financial implications for the conference, and about football. It is important that we not lose sight of other factors that will be material to the outcome, as well. We have been persuaded that there are ways to frame the expansion that will protect the special qualities of ACC basketball and can advance the interests of several of our Olympic sports. We are also intrigued by a number of possibilities for deepened collaboration in several academic programs offered by our potential new partners."
The Big East is holding its annual spring meetings this weekend in Ponte Vedra, Fla. Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer said the goal of the weekend is to save the conference.
University of Pittsburgh chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg has said his school, also a member of the Big East, will do everything it can this weekend to persuade Miami and the others not to leave the Big East.
"It is our hope the Big East will emerge from this period even stronger than it has been in the past," Nordenberg said, "and that really is the focus of our institutional efforts at this point."
Nordenberg did not deny speculation the Big East will offer financial incentives for Miami not to leave. Virginia Tech athletic director Jim Weaver told The New York Times that money likely will drive the decision, and the ACC has more of it because its TV contracts are more lucrative than the Big East's.
"I'm in regular discussions with the presidents and chancellors of the other Big East schools, and we're exploring a range of alternatives to strengthen the conference," Nordenberg said. "But there wouldn't be anything productive in my saying anything more about that now."
League by-laws say that each of the three schools invited must be visited by the existing nine ACC chancellors and athletic directors. After those visits, an
vote will be taken on each school in favor of or opposed to their admission to the ACC.