Are Canes on the move?

If placed in opposite divisions the annual college football showdown between the University of Miami and Florida State could possibly decide the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Hurricanes baseball coach Jim Morris would see the likes of perennial powers Georgia Tech, North Carolina and North Carolina State added to a schedule that already includes yearly dates against the Seminoles. And the Hurricanes men's basketball program would call the ACC home along with Duke, North Carolina and Maryland.

It could happen as early as 2005.

UM athletic director Paul Dee confirmed earlier this week in published reports that the Hurricanes are being courted to join the Atlantic Coast Conference and that Miami is interested in jumping from the Big East to ACC, a move that could come to fruition if at least seven ACC school presidents approve the conference's expansion.

ACC commissioner John Swofford has urged school presidents the last several weeks to speed up the process and laid out the positives of having Miami join the conference in an effort to be order to formally extended an invitation to the Hurricanes. Other financial issues and aspects of the deal would have to meet Miami's approval for the move to be finalized.

Despite reports indicating that the Hurricanes move would take place in conjunction with the ACC's 50th anniversary celebration this Thursday, the decision will likely take between 30-60 days and nothing would officially take place until 2005 with an outside shot at 2004.

But no matter what happens UM school president Donna Shalala is said to have the final say on the decision. Most officials at the school believe that Shalala's involvement will be critical to what Miami decides. One concern that Shalala has, according to officials at UM, is that students in the Northeast part of the country would not enroll at Miami at the same rate if the Hurricanes are not associated with Big East schools in the area. But having Syracuse and Boston College jump to the ACC would lessen that concern.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Shalala had not made a recommendation to the Board of Trustees. Dee, on the other hand, has already made a presentation of his own to the Board of Trustees outlining the pros and cons of UM joining the ACC.

Should the Hurricanes opt to go from the Big East to the ACC they would likely be followed by Syracuse and Boston College, Indications during the past several weeks have Syracuse and Boston College going to the ACC only if UM decides to go first.

Miami's new conference partnership would devastate the Big East- if not kill it- but help the ACC in a time of need. The ACC's television football contract expires in 2005 and with the slide of the Seminoles the last few years the Hurricanes –one of the most popular teams in the country- would give them good representation. The additions of Syracuse and Boston College to the ACC would also give the conference much needed exposure in the two of the biggest television markets in the country (Boston, New York).

In relation to the Bowl Championship Series the ACC is one of six conferences guaranteed a spot in one of the BCS games, which generate approximately over $13.5 million. But it is one of two conferences that has never received a second BCS berth in the same season. Adding Miami could help change that.

In men's basketball, Syracuse, the defending national champion, effect the number of bids the ACC receives for the NCAA tournament. Maybe that's why at least three schools- Duke, North Carolina and North Carolina State- are rumored to be against expanding the ACC. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is against expansion because it would likely mean the start of divisional play and the end of home-and-home contest against storied rivals like North Carolina, Maryland and NC State.

Of all the coaches currently at Miami Morris seems to be the most enthused about potentially playing in the ACC. Morris said earlier this week that the thought of competing in the same conference with so many quality baseball programs is enticing. Morris went on to say that affiliation with the ACC would only better prepare the Hurricanes for the College World Series.

"Can you imagine Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and us in the same baseball conference? That would be the toughest college baseball conference in the country," said Morris, who coached at Georgia Tech from 1982-93 and grew up in Lexington, North Carolina. "Playing that kind of competition would only make you better."

Hurricanes football coach Larry Coker apparently isn't so thrilled with the proposed move, stating earlier this week that ‘I don't think being in the ACC isn't a big advantage to us.' Coker is worried about the possibility of being in the same division with the Seminoles and therefore knocking each other off from BCS contention. Or Coker might have taken a peek at the overall performance of both conferences in the sport.

Last season alone, the ACC had four teams with winning conference records including FSU, Maryland, Virginia and NC State. The ACC was 4-3 in bowl games with Wake Forest, Virginia, Maryland and NC State all posting victories. The ACC has an overall mark of 36-39, while the Big East was a combined 21-28. The Big East was 3-2 in bowl games with Pittsburgh, Boston College and Virginia Tech all getting victories.

Men's basketball coach Perry Clark is also skeptical about joining a basketball-rich conference that already includes Duke, North Carolina, Maryland, Wake Forest and North Carolina State.

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