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U of Miami Joins the Big East Conference

From Associated Press

The University of Miami joined the Big East Conference today in an alliance that Commissioner Mike Tranghese said would save the conference.

The Big East extended the invitation in part to ensure its three major-college football members--Boston College, Pittsburgh and Syracuse--don’t defect to an all-sports conference.

“To be very blunt with you, our future was at stake,” Tranghese said. “If the Big East and the University of Miami could not have gotten together, I’m not certain we had an answer that would have satisfied the football concerns of Pitt, Boston College and Syracuse.”

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The university’s board of trustees voted unanimously to accept the league’s invitation extended Monday.

Miami will become the 10th Big East member beginning with the 1991-92 seasons in most sports. The Hurricanes’ juggernaut baseball team will remain independent.

Miami football, which has won three national championships since 1983, will stay on its own until it can work out a commitment with the other three Big East Division 1-A members.

Miami Athletic Director Sam Jankovich said that could take about five years. The Big East does not compete as a conference in football.

Miami sought membership in a conference as insurance against a slump in football and to boost its basketball program, which has averaged less than 3,000 fans at home games since it was resurrected in 1985.

“One of the areas this is going to have a definite impact on is season basketball tickets,” Jankovich said. “Buy them now--they’re not going to be available for long.”

Miami’s pursuit of a league began earlier this year after the addition of Penn State to the Big Ten sparked nationwide talk of conference realignment. The Southeastern Conference has since added Arkansas and South Carolina, and Florida State last month joined the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Big East and ACC officials are discussing a merger in football, with the champion earning a berth in the Orange Bowl opposite the Big Eight champion. Other Big East options in football include adding more independents or playing crossover games against the Southwest Conference.

Tranghese said the Big East isn’t in a hurry on a football decision.

“When you have a nice hand--and with Miami, Pitt, Boston College and Syracuse we have a nice hand--patience is a virtue,” he said.

The other members of the Big East are St. John’s, Georgetown, Providence, Connecticut, Villanova and Seton Hall.


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