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September 26, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

The Morning Dish – Friday, September 26th

ACC Irish?: Early reports yesterday from the Charlotte Observer indicated that Notre Dame had agreed to join the ACC in all sports, including football, over a gradual period of time, relinquishing its independent football status by a specific date. However, immediate denials from ACC commissioner John Swofford and from Notre Dame officials have for now quashed the story, which came one day after the NCAA informally rejected the ACC’s bid to have a conference championship with only 11 teams. The Irish are hardly a lame duck in need of a conference, even if their NBC football ratings are tanking as the team loses. The ACC and the Big Ten are continuing to negotiate with the Irish.

C-USA Scouting: Faced with the dissolution of its conference, Conference USA apparently is close to inviting WAC schools SMU, Rice and Tulsa to join the conference, along with Atlantic Sun member Central Florida. This comes one week after the WAC had indicated it would be targeting TCU, Houston, and Tulane to join their conference. With Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville and Marquette likely to be invited to join the Big East, and Charlotte and Saint Louis likely joining the A-10, the move to add the four schools would create a 12-team league with Houston, TCU, and Tulane joining Rice, SMU and Tulsa in the West, with UCF joining USF, Memphis, Southern Miss, UAB, and East Carolina in the East. The key is TCU, whose football team is ranked 17th in the coaches’ poll. Where the Horned Frogs go, others may follow. A C-USA source indicated that UCF and Tulsa have conditionally accepted bids.

UNC Ads: North Carolina has formed a task force to investigate whether advertisement should be allowed in the Dean Smith Center and other sports facilities, including Kenan Stadium. Unlike other schools, that have commercially sponsored television time-outs, UNC has resisted advertising, save for corporate-sponsored biographies of their athletes that run on scoreboards. Even Triangle-mates Duke and NC State have advertising in their arenas and stadiums. Advertising is being considered because the school’s internal fund-raising arm, called the “Ram Club” is running short on cash as scholarships become more expensive. Nike would probably be the first ad, as the school’s shoe and apparel deal, which runs through 2010, requires Nike advertisements if permitted in facilities.

A New Voice: Tulane president Scott Cowen has been selected as Conference USA’s representative to the NCAA Board of Directors, replacing East Carolina chancellor William Muse, who resigned this offseason. Cowen, who is intent on reforming college football’s bowl system, and potentially abolish the BCS, has an agenda for the hardwood as well. He also wants to reduce the cost of competition in Division I and push for higher academic standards among student-athletes. He’d also like to strengthen C-USA.

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