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   Welcome to TSLMail #78 - Friday, May 9, 2003    
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   Tech Sports News

A Primer on ACC Expansion
by Will Stewart,

TSL's message boards have been hopping lately with discussion about ACC expansion. Our traffic right now exceeds traffic during the football season and falls short only of the traffic leading up to recruiting Signing Day in February.

We have also been linking to gobs and gobs of newspaper articles from all over the country about ACC expansion, in an effort to get a read of the situation (see the "Big East Football" section of the last few weeks of VT Hokie News).

But we realize that not all of you have been able to follow the expansion talks minute-to-minute, nor to read all the articles, so here's a rundown on what's been going on (and those of you who have been following this closely should read it, too):

April 17th: Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese unexpectedly pops off to respected New York Daily News writer Dick Weiss, saying that the ACC is a bunch of "hypocrites" for talking to Miami, Syracuse, BC, and VT behind the Big East's back, trying to lure them into joining the ACC. For ACC expansion to occur, 7 of the 9 ACC school presidents have to vote yes on it, a so-called "super majority."

April 18th: In a Raleigh News and Observer article, ACC commissioner John Swofford called Tranghese's comments "unfortunate," but didn't exactly deny that the ACC was interested in expanding.

April 19th: Miami Athletic Director Paul Dee tells the Sun-Sentinel that Miami is content in the Big East, but is willing to listen to the ACC.

April 22nd: Dee tells the Miami Herald that UM would rather stay in the Big East, but they would jump to the ACC if BC and Syracuse went with them. VT is now officially on the outside of ACC expansion, looking in.

April 23rd: Syracuse AD Jake Crouthamel and Boston College AD Gene DeFilippo tell their respective newspapers that they're happy in the Big East, but if Miami bolts, they'll take a long, hard look at going with them.

April 25th: Dee makes a presentation to the Miami board of trustees, discussing the pros and cons of leaving the Big East to join the Atlantic Coast Conference. He is joined by football coach Larry Coker and women's volleyball Coach Nicole Lantagne Welsh. The Orland Sentinel reports this five days later, on the following Wednesday, and coverage of the issue starts to heat up and receive national attention.

May 2nd: Virginia AD Craig Littlepage tells the Roanoke Times he's cautious about expansion, but it's worth a look.

May 3rd: The story starts to hit CBS Sportsline,, etc. Reports surface that a move by the Hurricanes to the ACC could be imminent, perhaps within a week.

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May 5th: Paul Dee refutes the report that the Canes are moving soon, telling the Palm Beach Post, "We're just exploring and taking a very hard look at the Big East to see if there's not something we can do there. But, by and large, we're just exploring things right now."

May 6th: The possibility of the Big East football schools breaking away from the basketball schools, in an effort to appease Miami, is first mentioned in a Boston Globe article by Mark Blaudschun. TSL posters coin the concept the BABE (Break Away Big East) Conference.

May 7th: As message board and email rumors begin saying "It's a done deal," meaning that Miami, BC, and Syracuse are all ACC-bound, newspaper reports like one written by Tony Barnhardt of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution report that the ACC only has six of the seven votes needed for expansion, with Duke, UNC, and NC State being three no's. The Wolfpack are said to be wavering, though.

May 8th: With message board and email rumors still calling expansion a done deal, Mike Harris of the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that VT will not be a part of ACC expansion, something that Hokie fans suspected but had not been told outright. Harris also reports, like other media outlets, that the ACC does not yet have the votes needed for expansion.

Hokie fans start bombing Virginia government officials with pleas to step in and pressure UVa into approving ACC expansion only if it includes Virginia Tech.

The Raleigh News and Observer reports that the ACC might take just one school -- Miami -- but that is not held as conventional wisdom by other media; it's three teams or nothing, as told by Swofford to The Roanoke Times the next day.

The evening of May 8th, message board rumors do a sudden about face with the news that ACC expansion does not have the votes, in particular, Boston College is not even close to getting the seven votes needed. Down-in-the-dumps Hokie fans undergo a wild mood swing and start talking about breaking away from the basketball schools and raiding the ACC for FSU, GT, and Clemson to work towards making a 12-team conference.

May 9th: Tony Barnhardt of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports Cracks Emerge in Plans for ACC. Among other factors, Barnhardt cites Virginia legislative pressure on UVa to vote for expansion with VT only, Maryland and Wake Forest wavering, and a new ACC TV contract that would not be as lucrative as the league had hoped.

In another interesting twist, Mark Blaudschun of the Boston Globe reports on the subject of a Big East football breakaway, quoting a Big East source as saying, ''That's going to happen, it's just a matter of time. [The basketball schools] feel slighted. They feel they have given up so much already. They're tired of it. They want to go out on their own.''

That's where we stand today, May 9th. The ACC expansion effort appears to be falling apart, and message board rumors and press reports indicate that an effort by the Big East football schools to break away and form a new (BABE) conference are picking up steam.

The reason the breakaway conference is important is that it allows a smaller, trimmer Big East to then cast an eye towards expansion to twelve teams. Where the teams come from would be anybody's guess, but at the very least, the league would have options that it currently doesn't have, because of its bloated, convoluted membership.

This wild roller-coaster ride will take more ups and downs, because the ACC holds their annual meetings this Sunday through Thursday, with the Big East doing the same the following week. When all the ACC participants come face to face, things could change, and they could change again when the Big East players meet the week after that.

At this point, the ACC has issued a gag order on its membership on the topic, but talented reporters up and down the east coast are working their sources, and message board leaks are still occurring, of course.

Follow the action on the message board, via the daily links in VT Hokie News, and through our articles that are running in our TechSideline Pass subscription section. It ain't over yet, and it's the busiest, most nerve-wracking, most exciting May we've ever had. Stay tuned.

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-- Will Stewart Updates From the Past Week

And the Conference Musical Chairs Keep Revolving
by Wayne Crump, 5/8/03, 4:20 pm
Well, it is the College Conference Realignment Season again, and this time the sky is falling ... or is it? Public statements coming out of both the Big East and the ACC all tend to indicate something is afoot. But why would Virginia Tech be so concerned?
in TSL Pass

Is the Big East Getting Ready to Counterattack?
by Will Stewart,, 5/6/03, 3:30 pm
With all the talk about the ACC expanding, and Miami being the key candidate, you've got to stop and ask yourself if the Big East is going to just sit on its hands and let things happen that might destroy the league. I'd like to think the Big East is working on a counter-punch. And here's the lowdown on what they might do.
in TSL Pass

Proactivity Now!
by Jim Alderson, 5/5/03, 9:55 am
The clouds bearing the storm known as conference realignment have finally arrived. Very soon, apparently, the richest and most powerful of all college athletic conferences, the ACC, will announce its expansion, triggering the definition of college sports for decades.
in TSL Pass

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