The Eastern Eight Conference goes into the final days of its annual spring meetings today still hoping to resolve the biggest problem confronting the 5-year-old league: obtaining a television package for the upcoming basketball season.
Commissioner Leland Byrd said the eight atletic directors are very concerned over the lack of a television package and are hoping to obtain one by July 1. Last year's package was canceled after the league failed to come up with enough sponsors.
"The TV package is very important to the league but all we've done so far is discuss the options," Byrd said yesterday, following two days of meetings hosted by George Washington University at the Hoiday Inn in Fairfax. "We've come to no conclusions about anything yet, but the TV package is definitely one of our priorities."
Byrd said yesterday's sessions also included discussion about the stability of the conference. Two members with major football programs, Rutgers and West Virginia, have made it known they would consider dropping out of the Eastern Eight if they could join another conference or form one of their own with a total athletic program.
Only Rutgers, West Virginia and Pittsburgh field Division I-A football teams. Pitt representatives have said the school will continue to play football as an independent, thus not being forced to share its gate receipts and bowl revenues, while continuing to compete in the other sports as conference members.
Byrd also said that the meeting has not included any discussion of expansion. St. Joseph's applied for a membership two years ago and Old Dominion expressed interest last year, but Byrd said there were "no indications at all for taking in a ninth team right now."
The conference basketball coaches also met but, according to several coaches and athletic directors, there were no new developments.