No Expansion Vote Expected As ACC Officials Hold Another Conference Call
Posted June 17, 2003 11:26 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — The Atlantic Coast Conference said it may not vote on whether to add Miami, Syracuse and Boston College until later this month.
The statement issued by the league Tuesday came on the eve of another scheduled teleconference among the school's top leaders and ACC commissioner John Swofford, who insisted last week there was no timetable for a vote.
The ACC's Council of Presidents will hold a 7 a.m. conference call Wednesday to resume expansion talks. Neither the ACC nor WRAL's sources expect a vote, but a discussion about unresolved issues.
The league's athletic directors have made progress on football scheduling, but basketball remains a problem for some schools. If, for example, Wake Forest and North Carolina were placed in different divisions, they might play each other five times in four years instead of eight. There would be no double round-robin.
Meanwhile, Duke and UNC have questioned the economics of expansion, especially in the short term. The ACC would have to add $30 million per year to support 12 schools at the level at which it now supports nine.
Also, Virginia faces political pressure to vote "No" to expansion from Gov. Mark Warner to protect Virginia Tech's position in the Big East.
Sources tell WRAL that, where the schools once had concerns, about travel and student welfare, progress has been made.
The ACC presidents could vote Wednesday. But more likely, they'll hold one more conference call in a few days. At that time, they'll take one last look at the proposal to add Syracuse, Miami and Boston College.
If there aren't enough votes, the league could then consider Miami alone.
If the ACC added just the Hurricanes, it would not qualify to hold a conference football championship game. But Miami would enhance football revenues, and the ACC could keep the double round-robin basketball schedule and divide revenue 10 ways instead of 12.
The ACC's presidents and chancellors spoke by teleconference for five hours over two days last week. But they reached no consensus on whether to add the three Big East schools or remain a nine-team league.
The three Big East schools each have to pay a $1 million exit fee if they bolt to the ACC. That penalty doubles after June 30.
"The ACC is engaged in a thorough, member-driven, strategic planning process designed to ensure the long-term viability of the conference," Ron Wellman, Wake Forest's athletic director and chair of the ACC athletic directors, said in the statement.
Syracuse spokesman Kevin Morrow said the school is waiting on the ACC's decision.
"It was never imperative that a decision had to be made today, tomorrow or the next day," Morrow said. "As much time as is needed will be taken."
Officials from Miami and Boston College did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment.
The five remaining Big East football schools -- Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, West Virginia and Virginia Tech -- have filed a lawsuit to stop the expansion. The schools say the plan is a conspiracy that would ultimately weaken the Big East, whose members have spent millions on their football programs on the assumption the other schools would remain involved.
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said Tuesday that the delay in the ACC's vote will not affect his plans to vigorously defend the Big East.
"Indeed, the lawsuit is directly responsible for this delay and the schools' second-guessing of a supposedly done deal to accept the three schools," Blumenthal said. "We've slowed the defection of these schools. We mean to stop it."
Duke and North Carolina have voiced concern about travel costs, student welfare and projected football revenues of an ACC title game and future TV contracts.
At least seven of the nine presidents and chancellors must vote in favor of expansion for it to occur.
The ACC voted May 16 to pursue the three Big East schools. Site visits to the three campuses were completed two weeks ago.
The first teleconference among the conference leadership was to review the site visits and included the heads of Miami, Syracuse and Boston College.
The second teleconference last week included just the nine ACC schools. Talks ranged from divisional play to student welfare to finances, according to North Carolina State chancellor Marye Anne Fox.
"This is not a done deal by any means," Fox said last Friday. "The things that we have not had enough time to discuss so far are divisional structure, who would play one time and two times in basketball and how that would rotate and what that would do to conference rankings, and equity in travel.
"All of those things have not at all been resolved, let alone presented to the other three (Big East) presidents."
The ACC has expanded just twice in 50 years. Florida State was added in 1991 and Georgia Tech in '78.