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ACC Introduces Miami, Virginia Tech At Official Expansion Celebration

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — As powerful football independents in the early 1990s, Florida State and Miami went their separate ways. One joined the Atlantic Coast Conference, the other the Big East.

Since then, Miami athletic director Paul Dee has watched the Seminoles with envy.

"They had the benefit of coming into (the ACC), and we have seen all the things it has meant to them and to their fine university," Dee saidTuesday night after the ACC officially welcomed the Hurricanes and Virginia Tech into the league. "All of that was not lost on us as we watched them grow."

There was no drama at Tuesday's news conference, just a lot of praise for ACC Commissioner John Swofford for holding together a toughexpansion process.

The Hurricanes announced Monday they were leaving the Big East.

The Hokies made it clear late last week they would accept an invitation.

Swofford called the two schools a perfect geographic fit, joking that the league wouldn't even have to change its logo -- just add two more dots on the map for Miami and Virginia Tech.

That wouldn't have been the case if the ACC's original expansion plan had succeeded. That model called for Boston College and Syracuse -- two schools in the Northeast -- to join fellow Big East member Miami in making the nine-team ACC into a 12-team superconference.

But that plan fell through a week ago, and Virginia Tech was added in a surprise move.

"Coming here is bittersweet for me," Dee said. "We really do wish to accept this invitation in the way that it is intended and meant. But we also leave behind great friends and great universities in the Big East Conference that we hope we will continue to compete with and be friends with."

Virginia Tech, meanwhile, was helped along in the process by Virginia president John Casteen and politicians in that state,joining some teams they competed against in the old Southern Conference.

"Virginia Tech has finally come home," Hokies athletic director Jim Weaver said. "This is a wonderful challenge for our coaches and student-athletes. For them, I am excited."

There was no news about how the ACC would schedule its football and basketball teams starting with the 2004-05 academic year. Inthe previous nine-team league, every school played each other in football, and there was a home-and-away "round robin" format in basketball.

That will likely change with the additions. But Swofford said the subject needed more study.

"With 11, you don't necessarily have to reinvent the wheel because the Big Ten has been operating quite effectively as 11 since Penn State joined that conference," Swofford said. "What we need to do is take a look at the Big Ten model as a jumping off place in terms of our scheduling policies."

Swofford said he would seek several changes in the expansion procedure in the future if the ACC sought a 12th school, evenconsider changing some of the league's bylaws, which he called outdated.

"You would be foolish not to look back on this and see what you can learn and be adjusted and tweaked," Swofford said of theprocess that took seven weeks to complete.

He already has two changes in mind.

"We need more face-to-face meetings and fewer conference calls," he added. "The dynamics of being in the room is simply healthier for decision-making than conference calls.

"And the process that puts us on a campus with no invitation to follow, that part of the process didn't treat a couple of schools fairly and didn't treat our own league fairly," added Swofford,referring to Boston College and Syracuse.