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Final decision hinges on potential 12th member

RALEIGH, N.C. -- An NCAA panel has denied an Atlantic Coast
Conference request to hold a football championship game as early as
next season.

"It's not a good thing, but it doesn't kill the process," ACC
assistant commissioner Mike Finn said Thursday. "No one knows how
this is going to come out."

The decision is not formal or binding, but it leaves the chances
of playing the game in jeopardy. That could lead to a renewed push, which reportedly is under way, to add a 12th league member to meet the NCAA minimum requirement
for holding a lucrative title game.

According to newspaper reports Thursday, the ACC presidents have begun discussions with Notre Dame about becoming the conference's 12th member.

Virginia Tech and Miami have agreed to join the ACC next year,
expanding the league to 11 teams. Initial plans were to include
Boston College and Syracuse instead of Virginia Tech, which would
have given the ACC 12 schools.

The ACC has proposed reducing the minimum number of teams needed
for a league championship game to 10.

The issue was discussed last week by the NCAA Division I
Championships/Competitions Cabinet in Indianapolis, first at the
subcommittee level, then by the Division I-A members of the
cabinet.

The cabinet's recommendation to not allow the game will be
forwarded to the NCAA's Management Council, a 49-member group with
representatives from all Division I conferences.

The council probably would decide next year whether to recommend
the change to the NCAA's board of directors. A majority of the
board's 18 members must back it for approval.

One of the reasons the ACC sought to expand was to be able to
hold a revenue-generating championship game. It could generate upwards of $10 million a year for the league.

"I think we've got some existing issues to resolve, such as to
how to make the league work with 11," Wake Forest president Thomas
Hearn said Wednesday. "A football championship game may be a
reason [for adding a 12th], but I don't see it being a decisive reason for now."