News With Commentary by TSL Staff

Thursday, June 26, 2003
by Will Stewart,

ACC Extends Invitations to Miami, Virginia Tech

Wednesday evening, after a whirlwind site visit to Virginia Tech, the Atlantic Coast Conference extended official invitations to the Hokies and the Miami Hurricanes.

ACC representatives arrived in Blacksburg late in the morning and toured Virginia Tech's athletic facilities in the span of about an hour. The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors held a hastily-arranged meeting at 2 p.m. in the Hotel Roanoke and voted unanimously to authorize VT president Charles Steger to negotiate a deal with the ACC.

Steger said afterward that if an offer came, "we would be inclined to accept it."

Later in the afternoon, around 5 p.m., the ACC put the following press release on their web site:

ACC Extends Formal Invitations For Membership To Miami, Virginia Tech

Invitation to Virginia Tech is subject to final completion of conference by-law requirements.

June 25, 2003

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Clemson University President James F. Barker, chair of the Council of Presidents, announced that the Atlantic Coast Conference has extended formal invitations for membership to the University of Miami and Virginia Tech. The invitation to Virginia Tech is subject to final completion of the conference by-law requirements, which is currently under way. Miami completed its by-law requirements earlier.

"Our member institutions reached agreement to officially offer membership in the Atlantic Coast Conference to the University of Miami and Virginia Tech," said Barker. "These two institutions represent and share the values for which the ACC has long been known. We feel they will be a great addition to our family.

"Through the ACC's first 50 years, the conference has earned a reputation for excellence in both academics and athletics. As we look to the future, we are confident that our schools, coaches and student-athletes will maintain that heritage."

The ACC Media Relations Office will issue a media advisory at the appropriate time in regards to any press conference addressing conference expansion.

The by-law requirements referred to in the press release include primarily a site visit by ACC representatives, which as noted above was taken care of Wednesday morning.

Virginia Tech's membership offer is not contingent on Miami accepting their offer, so it's not out of the realm of possibility that the Hurricanes could reject the offer, with the Hokies accepting and being the only entrant into the ACC.

Miami is rumored to be very upset that Boston College and Syracuse, whom they had championed for ACC membership, were not offered. Miami president Donna Shalala issued this terse press release via the Hurricane Sports web site:

"We are very appreciative of the invitation from the ACC to join their conference. We are disappointed that they have decided not to extend invitations to Boston College and Syracuse. Since this is a new proposal, we will evaluate it before making a decision."

Most sources believe that Miami's delay is just posturing, and that the Hurricanes will accept the ACC offer. The alternatives, mainly returning to the Big East, are not very palatable, and though the Canes may take a few days, they're expected to come on board with the ACC, as well.

In a television interview aired on WDBJ-7 in Roanoke, ACC Commissioner John Swofford said of the two-team expansion to 11 teams: "You would be adding two of the very best football programs in the country." He said that both schools could improve and be competitive in ACC basketball, and that they fit very well within the conference's geographic footprint and academic profile.

Virginia Tech withdrew its name from the lawsuit that it had filed against the ACC, Miami, and Boston College.

Meanwhile, snubbed teams Boston College and Syracuse issued press releases on their web sites. Boston College, a willing participant all along with Miami's intentions to bolt the Big East, said on their web site:

Boston College entered into discussions with the Atlantic Coast Conference regarding conference expansion because we felt it was in the best interest of our student-athletes and our athletics program. Those discussions took place over the last few months in accordance with ACC procedures and without any violations of our responsibilities to the Big East membership.

Our discussions with the ACC were based on a conference expansion proposal that included Miami and Syracuse. Yesterday, in the eleventh hour, the ACC instead voted to invite Virginia Tech and Miami and to exclude Boston College and Syracuse. This unexpected vote has ended our discussions with the ACC.

Today, representatives from the Big East institutions are engaged in discussions with all conference members, including Miami and Virginia Tech, regarding future conference configuration. Boston College is now focused on these discussions, including addressing those issues that have caused several Big East institutions to consider conference withdrawal.

Syracuse, who was grudgingly willing to go along with Miami if the Canes and Eagles left the league together, had the following press release on their site:

From Kevin Morrow, Syracuse University spokesman:

We have received word from the ACC—via a phone conversation between Jake Crouthamel and John Swofford—of the conference’s intention to extend invitations to Miami and Virginia Tech.

The media reports are accurate. We’re not completely surprised by this decision and by the fact that it leaked out. Anonymous sources have been very active throughout this whole process.

We knew all along that the principal decision would be made by the [ACC] Council of Presidents. After having successfully completed the process as defined by the ACC, we are disappointed that a decision like this was made. Clearly there are issues that have come into play that outreach the quality and value of our institution and its athletic program.

Syracuse University has been a proud member of the Big East. We will work with our colleagues to help it become an even stronger conference. We have faced challenges before and we’ve always been up to the task. We will be again.

It is not known when Virginia Tech will publicly announce their acceptance of the ACC's offer, though multiple sources have said that the offer has been accepted, and it's just a question of holding a press conference. It is also not known when Miami will make public their decision to accept or not accept the ACC's membership offer.

Virginia Tech's impending membership in the ACC ends a 50-year quest on the part of the school to be in the conference. Many items are to be worked out, such as divisional alignments (if any), a possible 12th team (Notre Dame is the league's primary target), and other issues.

The membership offer is for the 2004-05 academic year, meaning Virginia Tech will have one more year in the Big East. The school will have to pay a $1 million exit fee from the Big East and a $3 million entrance fee to the ACC, but the $4 million price tag is easily worth it, since ACC revenue-sharing is projected to be at least $4 million per year more than Tech's average Big East revenue-sharing income of about $4.5 million (in years where the Hokies don't go to a BCS bowl).


TSL News and Notes Archives

TSL Home