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ACC Announces New Schedule Formats

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. — The Atlantic Coast Conference came up with a football schedule Wednesday that forces four schools to play all three of the conference's powers in each of the next two seasons.

The additions of Miami and Virginia Tech will give the ACC three of the top programs in the nation. Miami is No. 2 in The AssociatedPress Top 25, Virginia Tech No. 4 and ACC member Florida State fifth.

The schedule, approved in meetings that included athletic directors, senior women's administrators and facultyrepresentatives, maintains eight conference games against the same eight schools in the next two years.

Under the plan, Wake Forest, North Carolina State, Virginia and North Carolina will play all three marquee programs. Miami willplay Virginia Tech and Florida State, while the Hokies and Seminoles will not meet. The other four teams will play two of the powerhouses home-and-home.

The schedule announced by ACC commissioner John Swofford is flexible enough to work in one division or two, if the NCAA allowsthe conference to stage a championship game in spite of not having the mandatory 12 teams.

"It can work for us over the next two years in either scenario," Swofford said.

Swofford said the only way the league would split into two divisions is if the opportunity to hold a championship becomesreality.

The decision to have a championship, if it becomes available, will be made at the ACC meeting in Greensboro, N.C., in December,Swofford said.

If needed, one division would include Maryland, Clemson, North Carolina State, Wake Forest and Florida State, and the other willinclude Virginia, Virginia Tech, Miami, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Duke.

The conference did not discuss adding a 12th team during its two-day meetings. Swofford declined to discuss further expansion afterward.

"Right now, we're dealing with what's real, and what's real is that we're an 11-team league," he said. "I'm not here to talkabout a 12th."

The formula maintains the home-and-away rotation in place now. Swofford said it will be evaluated for fairness and balance after two years.

Most of the athletic directors left when Swofford went to meet with reporters. But the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Dick Baddour said he was satisfied.

"We feel great about the meeting," he said. "We'll be anxious to hear everyone's reaction to the schedule. It's going to be a lotof fun."

Virginia athletic director Craig Littlepage, the chairman of the league's ADs, also was pleased with all that was accomplished here.

"I like what we have right now," Littlepage said. "Who knows what our conference will look like in a year, two years and beyond? But I think we've done very well with what we have, and we'll make it work."

The meetings marked the first time that officials from Virginia Tech and Miami have participated since they agreed to join the ACCin June. The schools do not become voting partners until July 1, 2004, but their delegations were praised, along with the others, for working together.

"The tone of this meeting was superb," Swofford said. "The sense of cooperation was outstanding. A lot of progress was made ofa substantive nature in terms of scheduling decisions with an 11-team league."

The league also announced that its men's basketball teams will play a 16-game conference schedule in 2004 and 2005, and itswomen's teams will play 14-game conference schedules, meeting each team at least once.

All 11 league teams will play in the conference basketball tournaments, with the top five schools earning a first-round bye.

For the men, the schedule will include annual home-and-home series against two "primary partner" schools, home-and-homeseries against four other schools and single games against the league's other four schools.

The following year, men's teams will play home-and-home series against the four teams they played once the previous year,home-and-home series against their partner schools and single games against the other four.

The women will play home-and-home series against four primary partner schools and single games against the other six teams in both seasons.

The primary partners are not necessarily the same for the men's and women's teams but are based on rivalries that have developedover time.

"I am pleased that the league has come up with a solution to the basketball scheduling situation," Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Obviously, it is challenging to be fully equitable in implementing a schedule with 11 teams. I am supportive of any decisions that are made in the best interests of the ACC."

Duke's "primary partners" in men's basketball will be Maryland and North Carolina beginning with the 2004-05 season.

A primary partner is a team that a school is guaranteed to play twice - home and away - every season. Each school will have primary partners assigned that can be changed, after a minimum of two seasons of play.

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