From the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference, the University of Miami. The decision came after nearly two months of negotiations among the school and representatives of the ACC and the Big East, which will need to restructure without its marquee member. Miami will be joined by Virginia Tech in the move, which is expected to take effect in the fall of 2004.
Miami had been the linchpin of the ACC's plan to expand from nine to 12 schools, which would make it easier to have a lucrative annual conference football championship like the Big 12 and the SEC. On May 16 the ACC announced its intent to court Miami, Boston College and Syracuse as new members. After those selections met opposition from some ACC representatives—especially Virginia, which was lobbying for rival Virginia Tech to be included in the mix—the conference switched tactics and said it would invite only Miami and Virginia Tech. The about-face stalled Miami's decision, since president Donna Shalala had hoped to preserve ties with BC and Syracuse, schools known for holding athletes to relatively high academic standards.
In the end the bottom line prevailed. Though a football championship game isn't out of the question with only 11 members, Miami should still reap financial benefits: The Hurricanes' transportation costs will be reduced in the Southern-based conference. "There were some twists and turns in the journey," says Miami athletic director Paul Dee. "At the end we determined a move to the ACC would be I sound financially and also be good for our teams in terms of competition."