Friday, June 25, 1999

The Big East Makes Its Move, and Tech Mulls It Over

On Thursday, the Hokies made it official, announcing in a press release that a "proposal" for full Big East membership has been sent to Virginia Tech. Tech will now take the proposal under advisement, study it, and come to a decision before the end of the summer.

Here's the press release:

University Receives Big East Proposal -

That's not exactly what you expected to hear, is it? We have thought for years that if the Big East offer ever came, the Hokies would take it immediately, and the deal would be done.

We also thought it would be an "invitation," not a "proposal." As I told John Hale Thursday night on his Bear SportsTalk show, an "invitation" is something you extend with open arms. A "proposal" is something you negotiate.

This is not quite the warm, fuzzy experience we all anticipated.

This will, of course, lead to more wondering and more speculation about what is really going on. I thought the speculation after Thursday would center around how the Big East was going to split itself into divisions after inviting Tech in, but instead, the speculation will center around the reasons why Tech would delay … and the future of the conference.

I was operating under the assumption that the Big East had been in contact with Tech throughout the whole process, and that both schools understood the basic terms of the agreement, and therefore all that remained was to hold the vote, sign on the dotted line, and make the announcement.

That's not the way it worked out, and that tells me one of four things. Here are some theories on what might be going on, and they range from the most conservative at #1 to the most radical at #4:

1.) Tech had no idea of the specifics of the forthcoming offer, and is therefore doing the right thing and carefully evaluating what is probably a very complex agreement.

2.) The basic concepts were agreed upon, and the proposal Tech has received is not what the Hokies expected, and there's a "What the heck?" reaction going on right now in Blacksburg. Tech has been thrown for a loop by an unexpected clause or two, or the entrance fee is higher than anticipated, and the Hokie athletic administration is regrouping and figuring things out.

3.) With the turmoil surrounding the Miami-Hurricanes-to-the-ACC rumors, Tech is choosing to play it cool for a while and see how things play out before committing to the Big East.

4.) A big-time shakeup is about to occur in conference alignment, and the Hokies want to keep their options open a little longer.

There are other possibilities that fall somewhere in the range of #1 to #4 in terms of their likelihood, but the truth can't be known right now, at least, not by little ole me. And we also have to remember that not only are we entering a conference, but we're leaving one as well in the A-10, so there are issues to be resolved there, also.

Justin Ditmore of Channel 10 reported at eleven o'clock Thursday night that issues under discussion and negotiation with the Big East are revenue sharing, membership fees, and scheduling.

As usual, Jim Weaver is playing it close to the vest, saying words to the effect of, "We consider this to be a presidential document, and not for public consumption. As a matter of fact, it's probably best if the details are not disclosed, so we can evaluate the proposal privately."

With this interesting twist, it will take a while for the rumor mill to spin back up (there's a difference between rumor and speculation, and what is going on right now on the message board is the latter, not the former). So for now, we're left in the dark, and we'll have to sit back and wait, much as we have been doing for nearly a decade now.

Meanwhile, the Miami-to-the-ACC Thing Won't Die

Since Tech hasn't actually accepted Big East membership, I can go ahead and break yesterday's promise not to discuss the Miami Hurricane situation, which has cranked up yet another notch.

Just as I was starting to think there was nothing to the Miami-to-the-ACC rumor, which was an opinion I was forming after reading articles such as this one from the Winston-Salem Journal, I read on the message board last night that three different television stations from around the region are reporting that the ACC wants to invite the Canes in.

TV stations in Charlottesville, South Carolina, and Jacksonville are reporting that the Canes have been "approved for membership" in the ACC. A post on the Georgia Tech message board at reported on the South Carolina station's story:

"WSPA (CBS) in Spartanburg, SC just reported that Miami has been approved for league membership by an ACC committee. A spokesman for the Hurricanes said no official invitation to join the Atlantic Coast Conf. had been extended at this time, but expected some sort of announcement to be made by the University in the next month as to its future plans."

Meanwhile, a post on the message board reports that Channel 29, a Charlottesville station, is reporting pretty much the same thing, that the Canes have been "approved for membership," and that an announcement would be made next month.

On the other side of the ledger, Miami athletic director Paul Dee said on the radio yesterday that the Canes have "received no offers and are happy in the Big East." Which technically could be true, even if the ACC was on the verge of inviting the Canes in.

So, is it just smoke, or is there fire? Who knows? This could be the Doug Doughty story spiraling out of control rapidly, or there could be some credence to it.

I will tell you one thing, though: between the Tech situation and the Miami situation, this stuff is wearing me out. And the bummer is, I'm going to be away from my computer for the whole weekend and will be totally disconnected. So when I go back on-line on Monday, it could be a brave new world.

Or not.

I'm sitting here thinking of Jim Weaver, who hates speculation, rumor-mongering, and the questions they give rise to. And he's about to get large doses of it for at least the next month, until (a) the Hokies accept the Big East bid, and (b) the July 18th date for the Canes arrives.

I will tell you that in the clips I saw of him on TV, he looked confident and relaxed. He wasn't grinning from ear to ear, mind you, because that's not really his style, but the man didn't exactly look stressed out.

So hang on, folks. It ain't over yet. It looks like it's only just beginning. When the dust settles, it may not look anything like it does today, or maybe the only difference will be that Tech will be an all-sports Big East member. We'll see.


TSL News and Notes Archives

TSL Home