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Tuesday Expansion News And Links - One And Done?

In expansion news, a teleconference will take place on Tuesday, and a date
has been set for preliminary arguments in the Big East suit. That will start
Thursday in Connecticut. Duke's Joe Alleva tells the Herald-Sun's Al
Featherston that Duke
will support UNC's Miami-only option
, meaning that every ACC school
now supports expansion to one degree or another.

While some sources say that the Hurricanes are firm on leaving with
Syracuse and B.C., others say that President Shalala is sick of the Big East and
is particularly sick of Big East Commish Mike Tranghese and Connecticut Attorney General Richard
Blumenthal. The Palm Beach Post says that Shalala has said Miami will
never play football at UConn after Blumenthal aggressively questioned her
integrity. Miami may also have a backup plan: starting a football-oriented
conference that could include Florida State, Georgia Tech and Clemson of the ACC and Syracuse, Boston College, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, West Virginia or Connecticut,
though probably not UConn if Shalala is as mad as the Palm Beach Post says she
is. The ACC schools would walk away from a very healthy distribution into
a conference which would rely heavily on football and which would have only
Syracuse, Notre Dame, and Tech as basketball forces. It doesn't sound like
a recipe for great money, and the temptation may be accordingly lessened.

Rutgers has floated a compromise plan which would allow the ACC to take Miami
- something the Big East as you may recall has periodically thought to be a good
idea (Les Robinson mentioned a secret meeting a few years ago which addressed
this). Under the Rutgers plan, the Big East would would support ACC
efforts to have the NCAA change its rule that prevents 10-team conferences from
having a league championship game. The ACC in turn would promise not to
raid the Big East for a set period of time.

John G. Rocovich, the rector of Virginia Tech's Board of Visitors, says he
hasn't heard anything substantial but would call a meeting if and when he
does. He also reiterates Tech's support for the lawsuit. Aside from
the lawsuit, we have a lot of sympathy for Tech in this process. Being in
the ACC is a long-term dream, and in many respects, the ACC schools see them
somewhat fraternally. Getting whip-sawed on a daily basis must be tough.

In Clemson, some people are shouting conspiracy, and accusing
Duke and UNC of colluding,
as unlikely as that seems. Duke and UNC may have
interests in common, but conspiring? Seems a bit strong. The funny
thing is, Duke fans, and Duke institutionally, would have probably agreed with
criticisms of UNC getting breaks from the officials, at least until Dean Smith
retired. Now of course Duke gets a lot of the same criticisms that UNC
used to get. We don't think it's so much geared toward the North Carolina
schools as it is the simple fact that the more fundamentally sound teams will
usually get an advantage. It might not even be a conscious thing, but the
officials surely know that Smith or Krzyzewski have enormous reputations and
that may subconsciously influence things. We don't know. But we don't
think it's a conference thing at all, particularly since of the former
commissioners, one was a Wake Forest man, one was a Maryland grad, and one was a
UVa man. Expansion and the eternal officiating gripe are two different
issues, but the Clemson fans in this article seem
to hold John Swofford in high esteem
despite his being a
UNC man.

Add Dean Bonham to
that list.
Bonham, who the ACC hired to analyze expansion, says simply of
Swofford: "I have been involved in deals worth not
millions of dollars, not hundreds of millions, but literally billions of dollars
in the sports entertainment business. And in my experience, I have not seen a
leader manage the process with more integrity, more expertise or more diplomacy
than what John Swofford has displayed."

It's hard to argue with the sentiment. Clemson fans are decrying UNC and
praising former UNC A.D. John Swofford. Duke's Mike Krzyzewski has expressed
great confidence in the leadership of the ACC. For the ACC to elect a
commissioner from UNC, with the conference's traditional disdain of UNC, that
speaks volumes for the respect that the man has.

What will happen? Hard to say. If we had to bet, we'd bet that the ACC will
go for the sure thing, ACC-wise, and take Miami, then promise Donna Shalala
to spend the next year working out the kinks to bring in Syracuse and B.C.
Meanwhile, Swofford works the phones with the PAC-10, the Big 10, and maybe the
Big East to get the NCAA to approve divisions for 10-league teams.