News With Commentary by TSL Staff

Thursday, July 1, 2004
by Will Stewart,

It's Official: The Hokies Are in the ACC

It's a day of rejoicing for Virginia Tech fans everywhere, because VT's membership in the ACC has become official. It's July 1st, 2004, and with the devil's den completely covered in ice, it's a new day in Virginia Tech athletics.

Late last night, the ACC's official web site rolled out its new design, with the headline "ACC Welcomes Virginia Tech, Miami" and photos of VT quarterback Bryan Randall and Miami QB Brock Berlin.

The new web site also includes a new ACC map logo, with 11 diamonds denoting the location of the conference's 11 schools (no word yet on what they're going to do with that map when Boston College joins -- stay tuned). has been using that logo for months, but it's the first unveiling of it in an official ACC capacity.

In the lead story, ACC commissioner John Swofford was quoted as saying, "ACC fans throughout the geographic footprint are very excited about Virginia Tech and Miami coming into the league. This is a landmark date for us, just as it was when Georgia Tech joined the league and when Florida State joined the league. July 1, 2004, is going to be a very special date in our history with these two schools joining us."

A 2-minute, 24-second audio interview with Swofford, in which he touches on a number of topics regarding the new league configuration, is also posted on the site. also unveiled a new site design, one featuring ACC logos, just after midnight last night.

VT's first official day of membership was greeted with reams of newsprint, as state newspapers and papers around the ACC wrote articles about the momentous occasion.

A large part of the ink was dedicated to the uphill battle VT's Olympic (non-revenue) sports face with ACC membership. It is going to be a steep mountain for the Hokies to climb to become competitive in the league across the board -- women's basketball, golf, wrestling, and men's soccer have the best chances right off the bat -- but fat new revenue-sharing checks from the ACC, as well as travel cost savings, will help.

The ACC distributed a nation's-best $10.8 million to each of its universities in 2002-03, roughly double what the Hokies received from the Big East (just over $5 million). Tech will receive a limited revenue-sharing check of $6.25 million for the first two years in the ACC, but after that, the Hokies might need to open up new bank accounts, or buy new mattresses, to have a place to stuff all that ACC cash.

Thanks to the increased revenue-sharing, VT will boost spending on Olympic sports by just over $500,000 next year, but that's not the only extra money those sports will have. Tech Athletic Director Jim Weaver estimates that VT's Olympic sports will save about $500,000 a year in travel costs, money that he reportedly will allow the Olympic sports to keep and use in other ways: scholarships, coaching budgets, recruiting budgets, and equipment. That extra money will go a long way towards making the Hokies more competitive in their new conference, but it will take time.

Expansion has proven to be a financial windfall not only for the Hokies, but for the conference itself. The ACC recently signed new football TV contracts that will almost double their gridiron TV money, from just over $20 million a year to about $40 million a year. Additional bowl tie-ins can't be far off, and the conference is also in better position to receive two BCS bids, a feat never before accomplished by the league.

For the Hokies and their fans, ACC membership isn't just about the money. It's about looking forward with hope, not behind with regret or over their shoulder in fear. For the first time in modern history, Virginia Tech is in a cohesive, stable, all-sports conference, one with a five-decade tradition of excellence that will boost not just Virginia Tech's athletic profile, but its academic profile, as well.

That's definitely reason to celebrate.


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