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ACC group begins wooing Syracuse

Posted: Tuesday June 03, 2003 4:20 PM

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- An Atlantic Coast Conference delegation began arriving for a campus tour Tuesday as part of the league's attempt to lure Syracuse from the Big East.

The group will meet with coaches, athletic department officials and key administrators, Syracuse spokesman Kevin Morrow said.

"The topics they discuss will be the same ones that were considered at Miami and Boston College," Morrow said.

The ACC delegation will be led by ACC commissioner John Swofford and was expected to include associate commissioner Fred Barakat, the league director of men's basketball.

ACC bylaws require a campus visit before an actual invitation. Although no timetable has been set, Swofford said the whole matter could be wrapped up within the next month. The schools probably would begin ACC play in the 2005-06 season.

Having already visited Miami, the only school left on the ACC agenda is Syracuse.

"If indeed this works out ... this is a good marriage," Swofford said Monday. "Boston College would be an excellent fit for the ACC in every regard."

Syracuse athletic director Jake Crouthamel hopes to address the ACC's revenue-sharing plan with the visiting group. The ACC plan differs significantly from the incentive-based Big East plan.

The ACC voted May 16 to extend invitations to Miami, Boston College and Syracuse to begin formal discussions on joining the nine-team league. The ACC hopes to become a 12-team superconference that would add a lucrative football title game.

If the three Big East schools leave, the league would be left with only five football-playing teams -- Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Rutgers and Division I-A newcomer Connecticut, which just spent $90 million on a 40,000-seat stadium.

Big East members Villanova, St. John's, Providence, Georgetown and Seton Hall do not play Division I-A football.

The presidents of the five Big East schools left out of the expansion plans sought a meeting with Miami president Donna Shalala after Miami said it would consider leaving. That meeting will take place in Washington on the same day the ACC concludes its visit to Syracuse.

The Big East has guaranteed Miami at least $9 million annually for the next five years if the Hurricanes remain in the conference. Athletic director Paul Dee said the university still has some work to do before making a decision.

School officials have reviewed the ACC's projected revenue package and were "getting to feel more and more comfortable" with the numbers, he said.

The ACC and Big East have had national champions in basketball and football in recent years, but neither is regarded as a strong football conference top to bottom.

The Orangemen beat Kansas for the NCAA basketball championship in April, giving coach Jim Boeheim his first national title. Boeheim has been critical of the ACC's expansion plans because it would disrupt Big East basketball.

"We'll do what we have to do," he said Sunday night at a fund-raising golf tournament in suburban Rochester.


 
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