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Sources: ACC Proposal Would Add Virginia Tech

June 19, 2003|From Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. — Atlantic Coast Conference presidents have asked Virginia Tech to consider joining three other Big East schools in jumping to the ACC as part of its expansion plan, two sources told Associated Press on Wednesday night.

The sources spoke to AP on the condition they not be identified.

The decision to add Virginia Tech was made during a three-hour teleconference of the nine league presidents after it appeared that the original expansion involving Miami, Boston College and Syracuse would not get the required seven votes for approval.

The suggestion to reconsider the Hokies was made by Virginia President John T. Casteen III, who has supported including Virginia Tech in the plan throughout. After the Hokies were first rejected last month, he pledged to continue pushing for their inclusion.

Virginia Tech President Charles M. Steger was notified of the ACC's change of heart in a meeting with Georgia Tech President G. Wayne Clough in Blacksburg, Va., on Wednesday night.

Clough is a former dean of the college of engineering at Virginia Tech.

Steger was expected to speak with members of the school's Board of Visitors today to gauge their feelings on whether Virginia Tech should accept the offer.

Steger and others at Virginia Tech have been among the most outspoken critics of the ACC's expansion plan, which would leave the remaining schools in a stripped down Big East with an uncertain athletic future. Virginia Tech is one of five Big East football schools that filed suit on June 6 against the ACC, Miami and Boston College in an attempt to stop expansion.

Richard Blumenthal, the attorney general for Connecticut, where the suit was filed, said an offer to Virginia Tech is "another sign that the ACC is desperate and divided, and that it's real goal is to destroy the Big East as we know it."

Casteen, who left later Wednesday for a vacation in Europe and was not available for comment, was seen as having the possible deciding vote on expansion -- one that could have dealt Virginia Tech athletics a serious blow if he approved the plan.

Casteen offered Virginia Tech as an expansion target on May 16, but the suggestion was voted down by the league's presidents, who then decided to pursue the other three schools.

Casteen also has been under pressure from Gov. Mark R. Warner and other state officials to do whatever he could to protect Virginia Tech's athletic viability.

The latest teleconference was the third among ACC presidents and chancellors in recent days. The calls lasted a total of eight hours but never ended in a consensus, with Duke and North Carolina raising concerns about travel costs, student welfare and projected revenues of an ACC football title game and future TV contracts.

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