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Big East stalling tactic may be starting to work

by Chris Vannoy

ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR

MORGANTOWN -- At least one part of the Big East faithful five's plan to hold the conference together may be working.

West Virginia, Connecticut, Virginia Tech, Rutgers and Pittsburgh filed a 37-page lawsuit against Boston College, Miami and the Atlantic Coast Conference in Connecticut state court Friday to try and prevent Miami, BC and Syracuse from leaving the Big East to help form a 12-team superconference by merging with the ACC. Syracuse was not named in the suit because the Orangemen had made no promises to stay in the Big East.

At Friday's press conference announcing the suit, WVU President David Hardesty mentioned another factor in the decision to file suit.

"Our hope is that this legal action will slow things down a bit to give us time to think and time to talk," Hardesty said. "That's the important thing here.

"The league and teams in question here have been working in secret for many, many months now. We've only known about this since the last week of April."

In just the last few weeks, the ACC has visited all three schools that are threatening to leave the Big East. A report in Friday's Miami Herald suggested that Miami would accept a formal offer to join the ACC and that conference presidents may vote to invite the three schools as early as Monday.

Hardesty's comments echoed similar sentiments expressed by Connecticut President as well as Virginia Tech President Dr. Charles W. Steger.

"Certianly, our preference is to keep the Big East intact, but we think this process has been unfolding rather rapidly in the last few weeks with the site visits by the ACC to the other schools," Steger said Friday. "We think it would be particularly useful for people to take some time to slow this process down and think through the consequences and evaluate very carefully what other options might be available to us."

By Saturday, even Miami was acknowledging that the suit could slow down the school's exodus to the ACC.

"Derail's not the term, maybe tapping on the brakes," Miami athletic director Paul Dee told the Associated Press prior to the Hurricanes' college baseball playoff game against North Carolina State. "The train's not off the track but it's slowing down."

"We're not going to force anything. It could take a long time to happen."

Assistant Sports Editor Chris Vannoy can be reached 626-1444 or by e-mail at cvannoy@exponent-telegram.com