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Thursday, June 26
Miami puts off decisive vote until Monday news services

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- The University of Miami, while continuing to mull an invitation to join the Atlantic Coast Conference, said Thursday it had received counterproposals to remain in the Big East and will make a final decision Monday.

BC dropped as defendant
In Connecticut, where a lawsuit filed by four schools accuses the ACC of conspiring to wreck the Big East, Boston College was dropped as a defendant and Virginia Tech left the list of plaintiffs.

Judge Samuel J. Sferrazza on Thursday rejected a defense attempt to move the lawsuit out of Tolland County, which is home to UConn.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said the shifting legal lineup might play to the advantage of the plaintiffs -- UConn, Rutgers, West Virginia and Pittsburgh -- because BC could "shed light on some of the secret, back-room discussions in this continuing conspiracy.''

The Rev. William Leahy, Boston College's president, said BC won't be joining the suit. "I think it's a waste of time and money,'' he said.

"I'm not surprised we were sued,'' Miami President Donna Shalala said. "Who sued us surprised me.''

Originally, Miami and Boston College were the defendants in the case, and Virginia Tech was among the plaintiffs.

But that changed when the ACC decided against inviting Boston College. Boston College was dropped as a defendant and Virginia Tech has excused itself as a plaintiff.

Syracuse was never a defendant because Big East attorneys contended that only Boston College and Miami were engaged in secret discussions to ruin their conference.
-- The Associated Press

The university's executive committee of its board of trustees met with Miami President Donna Shalala and athletic director Paul Dee for more than an hour Thursday to discuss the ACC invitation. Shalala said that no vote was taken.

The ACC has scheduled a news conference for Monday at 7:30 p.m. ET to address the situation.

Shalala said the delay was at least partially attributed to the fact the school received counterproposals from other Big East schools Thursday. She declined to provide any specifics on those proposals.

"The Big East has informally sent a proposal, or at least a list of proposals, to us and we feel a responsibility to review them,'' said Shalala, who acknowledged she was not ruling out any possibility, including remaining in the Big East.

ACC Commissioner John Swofford said Thursday conference officials are keeping the lines of communications open with Miami and continue to remain optimistic that the Hurricanes will join the ACC.

"These are significant decisions that have long-term implications and we fully appreciate and respect Miami's need to thoroughly evaluate their decision," Swofford said. "We think Miami would be an excellent fit for the Atlantic Coast Conference and it is certainly our hope that they will be joining us."

The Rev. William Leahy, Boston College's president, spoke with Shalala on Wednesday night.

"I think she is generally torn about what to do,'' he said.

Sources have told's Andy Katz that Leahy tried to convince Shalala to stay in the Big East.

The university needs to inform Big East officials before Monday of any decision to jump to the ACC or risk having its $1 million penalty fee for leaving double to $2 million.

On Wednesday, the ACC invited Miami and Virginia Tech in hopes of forming an 11-team conference, passing over Boston College and Syracuse.

"I am deeply disappointed that Boston College and Syracuse were not invited by the ACC,'' said Shalala, who added she would not ask the ACC to reconsider inviting those two schools.

Many expected Miami to receive an invitation after the ACC voted May 13 to expand, but Virginia Tech didn't come into the picture until last week.

ACC commissioner John Swofford said neither school had accepted an invitation yet, but he didn't expect any problems.

"It's their decision to make at this point,'' he said. An 11-team conference might have been a sticking point for Miami. The school had some financial concerns about joining the conference without Northeast schools Boston College and Syracuse or a guarantee of a football championship game.

But a source within the ACC told's Katz that the conference informed Miami officials that it is easier to go from 11 to 12 schools than nine to 12, indicating that the ACC will likely want to have an even number of teams within the next 3-4 years. Shalala said Miami still had to evaluate what a two-team addition to the ACC would mean financially for Miami. With just 11 teams, the ACC could not add the lucrative title game.

"We had done numbers on Boston College, Virginia Tech and Miami, we had done numbers on Miami alone, but we had not anticipated that Virginia Tech and Miami would be the only two invitees,'' Shalala said. Notre Dame could be a long shot to join the ACC, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on Thursday. Notre Dame is a football-independent school whose other teams, including hoops, participate in the Big East. If Virginia Tech and Miami bolt the Big East, Notre Dame might have to find another home.

Clemson President James F. Barker, head of the league's Council of Presidents, said Miami and Virginia Tech would be a great addition to the ACC.

"These two institutions represent and share the values for which the ACC has long been known,'' Barker said.

Barker said the invitation to Virginia Tech, a dark horse candidate that was added last week at the insistence of Virginia, was "subject to final completion of the conference bylaw requirements'' -- a site visit that was under way Wednesday in Blacksburg, Va.

Virginia Tech's governing board, meeting earlier Wednesday, unanimously authorized president Charles Steger to negotiate a deal with the ACC. Steger said he was "inclined to accept'' the offer.

Boston College said the Big East was discussing future conference configurations among all its members.

The statement said the schools will address "those issues that have caused several Big East institutions to consider conference withdrawal.''

Syracuse spokesman Kevin Morrow said the school was "disappointed'' about not receiving an invitation to the ACC and that it would work with the Big East to "help it become an even stronger conference.''

"We have faced challenges before, and we've always been up to the task. We will be again,'' Morrow said.

The ACC presidents voted to expand on May 13, and conference officials visited Miami, Boston College and Syracuse to assess their facilities. Virginia Tech came into the picture as part of a compromise suggested by Virginia president John T. Casteen III.

If the ACC expands to 11 members, it would be one short of the number necessary to hold a football conference championship game.

The ACC could seek a waiver of the requirement, but Steve Mallonee, the NCAA's Division I associate chief of staff, said Wednesday he was unaware of any such request.

Mallonee said no conference has asked for a waiver since the rule was added in 1987.

Information from The Associated Press and's Andy Katz was used in this report.

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Miami President Donna Shalala announces a delay to the school's decision.
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