Local News

ECU Boosters Push for Pirates' Inclusion in ACC's Expansion Plan

Posted June 27, 2003 10:10 a.m. EDT

— As the Atlantic Coast Conference pursues Virginia Tech and Miami in its plan to expand, some fans of

East Carolina University

say the league should look a little closer to home.

The ACC is awaiting word from the two colleges on whether they'll accept an invitation to join the league, which has nine members now. If they both say yes, that would give the conference 11 schools - one short of the number needed to hold a conference championship.

ECU supporters are encouraging other Pirates fans to write to lawmakers including Gov. Mike Easley to ask for their help in persuading the league to include the Greenville school in its plans.

"I haven't heard any negatives on this from colleagues I've talked to," said state Sen. Tony P. Moore, who wrote to Easley on Thursday, seeking his help.

"We'll see how the governor feels about this. We'd like to see the same support that the governor of Virginia provided for Virginia Tech. We're the third-largest university in the state, and we would like to be considered."

Easley spokesman Ernie Seneca said the governor received Moore's letter but is focused on the state budget right now.

League spokesman Brian Morrison did not return a call seeking comment Friday.

University of North Carolina Chancellor James Moeser has raised objections to expansion in the past because of travel concerns, a point in ECU's favor, according to Chancellor William V. Muse.

"There would clearly be major benefits for the state of North Carolina, tremendous benefits economically for the eastern portion of the state," Muse said. "There are a lot of reasons why state political leaders should take an interest."

ECU is currently a member of Conference USA, which doesn't get a Bowl Championship Series berth in football unless it finishes in the top six in the series standings.

Both the ACC and the Big East - of which Miami and Virginia Tech are currently members - have an automatic series bid. Muse said he is looking for access to the best competitive situation for the Pirates in all sports with an emphasis on the highest level of Division I.A. football.

The commissioners of Conference USA and the Big East have been talking, Muse said.

"If there are schools in Conference USA who want to be considered by the Big East, it is my understanding that there will be provisions for this to be done in a deliberate and professional way," Muse said.