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Miami's Decision Is Expected on Monday

June 27, 2003|Chris Snow | Times Staff Writer

In the high-stakes game of conference realignment, Miami called for time Thursday.

University President Donna Shalala promised a decision Monday, saying she wanted to analyze the economics of an 11-team Atlantic Coast Conference and evaluate counter-proposals by the Big East.

"I wouldn't describe [us] as leaning one way or another," Shalala said.

ACC Commissioner John Swafford said in a statement, "We fully appreciate and respect Miami's need to thoroughly evaluate their decision.

"We have had conversations with Miami and will continue to be available to have any further discussions that may be necessary."

Regardless of what Miami does, Virginia Tech plans to accept the ACC's invitation.

"The best way to characterize it is, we're dotting the I's and crossing the T's," said Larry Hincker, associate vice president for university relations at Virginia Tech. "We have not gotten a formal offer letter, but we expect that very shortly. As far as we're concerned, we're going."

If they leave the Big East, Miami and Virginia Tech must formally notify the conference by Monday, after which its $1-million exit fee doubles. The ACC has scheduled a news conference Tuesday in Greensboro, N.C.

Virginia Tech's decision-making body, the Board of Visitors, unanimously supported the move Thursday and ACC officials made a campus visit.

"We were all set and ready to go to Greensboro today and tomorrow and yesterday," Hincker said.

Then Miami slowed the process.

The executive committee of its Board of Trustees convened Thursday, suggesting that Shalala's 4 p.m. news conference would be about a decision. Instead, she and Athletic Director Paul Dee had little to reveal. "The Big East has informally sent a list of proposals to us, and we feel a responsibility to review them," Shalala said.

"Since [the proposal] came from Syracuse and Boston College, we are particularly obligated to give it a thoughtful response," added Shalala, who attended graduate school at Syracuse and worked with Syracuse Chancellor Kenneth Shaw at Wisconsin.

Shalala said that one-third of Miami's student-athletes had e-mailed her their opinions.

"They were very thoughtful and the spelling was excellent," she said.

Also Thursday, a judge in Connecticut ruled that a lawsuit accusing the ACC of conspiring to wreck the Big East will be heard in Tolland County, which is home to the University of Connecticut. UConn, Rutgers, West Virginia and Pittsburgh are the plaintiffs in the suit.

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Times wire services contributed to this report.

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