Wednesday, October 1, 2003
Four programs stuck with three powers
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- The Atlantic Coast Conference came
up with a football schedule Wednesday that forces four schools to
play all three of the conference's powers in each of the next two
The additions of Miami and Virginia Tech gives the ACC three of
the top programs in the nation. Miami is No. 2, Virginia Tech is No. 4 and current ACC member Florida State is fifth in the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll and The Associated
Press media poll.
The schedule, approved in meetings that included athletic
directors, senior women's administrators and faculty
representatives, maintains eight conference games against the same
eight schools in the next two years.
Under the plan, Wake Forest, North Carolina State, Virginia and
North Carolina will play all three marquee programs. Miami will
play Virginia Tech and Florida State, while the Hokies and
Seminoles will not meet. The other four teams will play two of the
The schedule announced by ACC commissioner John Swofford is
flexible enough to work in one division or two, if the NCAA allows
the conference to stage a championship game despite not having the
mandatory 12 teams.
"It can work for us over the next two years in either
scenario," Swofford said. The only way the league would split into
two divisions is if the opportunity to hold a championship becomes
reality, he said.
The decision to have a championship, if it becomes available,
will be made at the ACC meeting in Greensboro, N.C., in December,
If needed, one division would include Maryland, Clemson, North
Carolina State, Wake Forest and Florida State, and the other will
include Virginia, Virginia Tech, Miami, Georgia Tech, North
Carolina and Duke.
The conference did not discuss adding a 12th team during its
two-day meetings, and Swofford declined to discuss further
"Right now we're dealing with what's real, and what's real is
that we're an 11-team league," he said. "I'm not here to talk
about a 12th."
The formula maintains the home and away rotation in place now
and will be evaluated for fairness and balance after two years,
Most of the athletic directors left when Swofford went to meet
with reporters, but North Carolina's Dick Baddour said he was
"We feel great about the meeting," he said. "We'll be anxious
to hear everyone's reaction to the schedule. It's going to be a lot
Virginia athletic director Craig Littlepage, the chairman of the
league's ADs, also was pleased with all that was accomplished here.
"I like what we have right now. Who knows what our conference
will look like in a year, two years and beyond, but I think we've
done very well with what we have and we'll make it work,"
The meetings marked the first time that officials from Virginia
Tech and Miami have participated since they agreed to join the ACC
in June. The schools do not become voting partners until July 1,
2004, but their delegations were praised, along with the others,
for working together.
"The tone of this meeting was superb," Swofford said. "The
sense of cooperation was outstanding. A lot of progress was made of
a substantive nature in terms of scheduling decisions with an
The league also announced that its men's basketball teams will
play a 16-game conference schedule in 2004 and 2005, and its
women's teams will play 14-game conference schedules, meeting each
team at least once.
All 11 league teams will play in the conference basketball
tournaments, with the top five schools earning a first-round bye.
For the men, the schedule will include annual home-and-home
series against two "primary partner" schools, home-and-home
series against four other schools and single games against the
league's other four schools.
The following year, men's teams will play home-and-home series
against the four teams they played once the previous year,
home-and-home series against their partner schools and single games
against the other four.
The women will play home-and-home series against four primary
partner schools and single games against the other six teams in
The primary partners are not necessarily the same for the men's
and women's teams, but are based on rivalries that have developed