Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Big East shuffle hasn't turned off UC


Goin: Boston College's departure doesn't tarnish appeal

By Bill Koch
The Cincinnati Enquirer

University of Cincinnati athletic director Bob Goin expressed disappointment Monday over Boston College's decision to leave the Big East Conference for the Atlantic Coast Conference, but said the defection of one of the league's charter members doesn't make the conference any less attractive for the Bearcats.

UC and Louisville, both current members of Conference USA, are expected to receive invitations to join the Big East when the league's presidents meet Nov. 4 in Philadelphia.

They would replace Virginia Tech and Miami, which will join the ACC next season.

"I feel their hurt," Goin said of the Big East's remaining schools. "But they're awful strong. They've got some bell cows up there. When you have a Syracuse and a Connecticut and a Pitt and a West Virginia and Rutgers coming on, you've got great institutions. They're going to bounce back and they'll be fine."

Seton Hall athletic director Jeff Fogelson said Boston College's decision will not affect the league's immediate expansion plans.

"It doesn't derail the process and the direction we're going," Fogelson said. "What it does is add another element to it. Clearly, the football institutions are going to need to identify a replacement for Boston College."

Fogelson would not speculate on candidates to replace Boston College, but East Carolina, Marshall, South Florida and Central Florida have all been mentioned as possibilities.

Boston College's defection came as a surprise to the remaining Big East schools, Fogelson said. B.C. was originally targeted by the ACC when it first pursued expansion plans last summer, but when the ACC settled instead on Miami and Virginia Tech, it appeared the Eagles would remain with the league they helped found.

That changed Sunday when B.C. quickly accepted the ACC's invitation to become the league's 12th member. The move creates the possibility for a financially lucrative conference football league championship playoff game.

"We had every reason to believe that we were moving forward together," Fogelson said. "That part of it is disappointing.:

UC officials continue to wait for the Nov. 4 invitation they hope is forthcoming. If it comes, it won't take long for UC to respond. The process of seeking approval for the move from Dr. Nancy Zimpher, UC's new president, and the UC Board of Trustees, will be completed before Nov. 4, Goin said.

Zimpher, while stopping short of endorsing the switch, spoke favorably last week about the benefits of Big East membership, and Goin has made no secret of his desire to make the move.

"I'm trying to make sure we're part of it," Goin said. "I want to make sure that happens."

E-mail bkoch@enquirer.com




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