Local News

Still No Vote Taken On ACC Expansion

Posted June 11, 2003

— Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford said Wednesday that no vote will be taken on the league's expansion until at least next week.

The announcement came after the ACC's presidents and chancellors failed to reach a consensus on an expansion plan in five hours of talks over two days.

Swofford said after Wednesday's 2 1/2 hour conference call that a few schools still had concerns over student welfare. But he was quick to add that the lack of a vote was no indication that the ACC's plan to add Miami, Syracuse and Boston College was falling apart.

"When you talk about minor or small things, that's in the eye of the beholder," Swofford said of divisional alignment or travel costs, two concerns posed by Duke and North Carolina. "Certain things are more important to some presidents than they are to other presidents."

Swofford said another conference call involving himself and the ACC leadership would be no sooner than early next week.

"There are some things they want to think about that we talked through today in regard to some details," he said. "I don't think it's a step backward in the process."

Speculation abounds that Virginia, Duke and UNC may vote against expansion, leaving the league at least one vote shy of approving expansion. Swofford did not say when a formal vote of the league's nine schools would be held -- if at all.

"We've never put a time frame on when we would be voting," he said, "other than to say that's up to the presidents when they reach that point."

"The only thing that we've ever said about the end of the process is we felt like it would be completed by the end of this month," Swofford said when pressed on a timetable. "There seemed to be some expectation coming back from the site visits that there would be an immediate vote. Those were outside expectations, not internal expectations."

Miami, Syracuse and BC all are members of the Big East Conference, which is trying to block their potential departure. The three schools have to play a $1 million exit fee, which will double if they leave after June 30.

Swofford and other ACC officials completed site visits to Miami, Syracuse and Boston College last week.

Earlier Wednesday, Big East presidents sent letters to their ACC counterparts seeking a meeting about their expansion plans and urging them not to "rush to judgment."

The Big East schools want to know more about the plans to invite the three schools. So the Big East presidents asked Clemson's James Barker, the chair of the ACC presidents, to arrange the meeting.

"We feel quite certain that no ACC president or chancellor would want to rush to judgment on such a potentially harmful plan without having complete information," the Big East presidents wrote in the letter, "and we believe we have insights to share that could not be effectively communicated by anyone else."

ACC leaders received the letter just hours before they held Wednesday's teleconference, and Swofford said the letter was not discussed in the call.

"We are now requesting that you work with us to arrange for a discussion," the letter said. "We do so respectfully and in the spirit of collegiality and open communication that has long been one of the hallmarks of American higher education."

The letter is the next step in the Big East's attempt to stop the ACC expansion plan.

Last Friday, the five football schools that would be left behind -- Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Virginia Tech, West Virginia and Rutgers -- sued the ACC, Miami and BC, seeking millions in damages and an injunction against expansion.

The letter, from the presidents of the five schools, was the latest indication that the Big East is still interested in resolving the matter without going to court. On Tuesday, Big East presidents held a conference call with media in which they urged the NCAA or another impartial party to mediate.

Attorneys for the Big East contacted Swofford and the presidents and athletic directors of the ACC schools, along with Miami, Boston College and Syracuse, notifying them that they wanted to take their depositions for the lawsuit.

Also Wednesday, the attorney general for Connecticut, where the lawsuit was filed, sent a letter to lawyers for the ACC, Miami and Boston College demanding they turn over a variety of documents and memos related to any communication among the schools and conference regarding the expansion.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said he initially made the request on Monday but got no response. He said he will bring further legal action if he does not hear from the defendants' attorneys by noon Thursday.

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