- The Washington Times - Friday, June 20, 2003

Virginia Tech could decide as soon as today whether to join the ACC, with another school possibly following suit in a few years.

ACC sources yesterday said Virginia Tech’s inclusion also may prompt the conference to seek Notre Dame or Connecticut when expansion becomes reality for the 2005-06 academic year. Virginia Tech would join fellow Big East schools Miami, Boston College and Syracuse as ACC members, pending approval by the conference’s university presidents.

Virginia Tech president Charles Steger met with the university’s Board of Visitors and athletic director Jim Weaver yesterday about joining the ACC. Steger discussed the offer with Georgia Tech president G. Wayne Clough on Wednesday.

Virginia Tech officials declined comment aside from a brief statement saying negotiations were still in flux. The officials recently said they wouldn’t accept an ACC offer following failed talks to include the Hokies in the original three-team expansion plan. Instead, the ACC chose Syracuse for its larger TV market.

“Virginia Tech has not been extended an offer, either formally or informally, to join the Atlantic Coast Conference,” the release stated. “We do not know if one is forthcoming. We are not in a position to comment on news reports. We have heard of many what-if scenarios, but we cannot comment on rumors, innuendos, and intimations. The expansion plans are the work of the ACC, and we have to wait and see what the ACC wants to do.”

ACC athletic directors discussed via conference call the league revenue splits with 13 teams instead of 12. The difference is seven-tenths of 1 percent, but each school would receive only 7.6 percent of revenues instead of the current 11.1 percent. Gaining major media markets in Boston and Miami might offset these losses when the conference signs a new TV contract in 2005.

The athletic directors also reviewed added travel costs and increased missed classroom time for athletes. ACC sources said most athletic directors weren’t against Virginia Tech’s inclusion but were surprised by the university presidents’ decision to further expand.

The ACC is trying to lure Virginia Tech from the Big East after rejecting the Hokies in April. Virginia Tech is part of a lawsuit by five Big East members filed April6 against the ACC. Virginia Tech must drop out of the suit if it agrees to join the conference.

The ACC wants Virginia Tech to gain the University of Virginia’s needed seventh approval vote for expansion. With no other resolution to a two-week deadlock and the Big East teams needing a decision before July1, when the $1million exit fee doubles, Virginia president John Casteen offered the compromise of a 13-team league with Virginia Tech.

Taking the Hokies would free Virginia to approve expansion after Gov. Mark Warner overrode university leaders who wanted to endorse the expansion plan to 12 schools. Warner feared a diminished Big East would harm Virginia Tech.

With North Carolina and Duke firmly against expansion, gaining Virginia’s vote was the only solution to reach the mandatory seven of nine approval.

Whether the ACC would quickly gain a 14th team to create two seven-team divisions is undecided. Connecticut also is bound by the Big East’s looming deadline and hasn’t been investigated by ACC officials.

The Big East lawsuit, to which Connecticut is a party, is led by state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. Notre Dame’s television contract expires in 2005, so the timing would be right to gain the Fighting Irish.

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