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Virginia Tech Gets Long-Awaited Welcome Into ACC

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — Virginia Tech fans and officials spent decades gazing longingly at the Atlantic Coast Conference, hopingfor a day when the Hokies could join the league made up of many of their former Southern Conference rivals.

On Tuesday night, the Hokies finally got the warm welcome they had wanted.

"Virginia Tech has finally come home," athletics director Jim Weaver said.

The Hokies were formally introduced with Miami as the newest members of an 11-team ACC.

During a news conference, ACC commissioner John Swofford presented Weaver with a maroon golf shirt and a hat, each of them bearing the conference logo.

"For many years, a number of people have felt that Virginia Tech was a natural fit for the Atlantic Coast Conference,"Swofford said. "I'm just glad, and our league is just thrilled, that that time has finally come."

Virginia Tech had attempted several times to join the ACC, where its proximity to several other members would have cut down travel time and expenses, among other things.

"It's been a constant discussion, bubbling beneath the surface for decades," said John Rocovich, rector of the university's Boardof Visitors. "People have always been saying and discussing (that) we really ought to be in the ACC."

In an open letter to alumni last week, university president Charles M. Steger wrote that the school "has made no pretense forthe past 30 years that we would be a good fit for the ACC."

Some would argue the wait has been even longer, starting when Virginia Tech was left behind by seven schools who left the Southern Conference to form the ACC in 1953.

Now, Clemson, North Carolina and Duke are among the schools the Hokies will face on a regular basis. Its rivalry with Virginia has only been enhanced.

"It's great," Virginia athletics director Craig Littlepage said. "It helps to know that the competition counts toward the potential for a championship."

The Hokies had been rejected by the ACC as an expansion target in May, when the league decided to pursue Miami, Syracuse and Boston College.

In June, Virginia Tech was one of five Big East football schools that sued to try to stop the three schools from leaving theconference. Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and West Virginia were the other plaintiffs.

But the ACC's presidents were unable to get the seven votes needed to send out invitations.

North Carolina and Duke were opposed to the plans, and Virginia was under pressure from stateofficials to vote down any plan that didn't include the Hokies.

Virginia Tech came into the picture as part of a compromise suggested by Virginia president John T. Casteen III, and the ACC had an expansion plan it could agree on.

"We have acted to position Virginia Tech for the future," Rocovich said, "and this future is the very best future that wecould have."

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