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

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GREENVILLE, N.C. — As the Atlantic Coast Conference pursuesVirginia 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 whetherthey'll accept an invitation to join the league, which has ninemembers now. If they both say yes, that would give the conference11 schools - one short of the number needed to hold a conferencechampionship.

ECU supporters are encouraging other Pirates fans to write tolawmakers including Gov. Mike Easley to ask for their help inpersuading the league to include the Greenville school in itsplans.

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

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

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

League spokesman Brian Morrison did not return a call seekingcomment Friday.

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

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

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

Both the ACC and the Big East - of which Miami and Virginia Techare currently members - have an automatic series bid. Muse said heis looking for access to the best competitive situation for thePirates in all sports with an emphasis on the highest level ofDivision I.A. football.

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

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

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