The University of Miami could announce it is joining the Big East Conference as early as Tuesday, following a Monday visit to the Coral Gables, Fla., campus by Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese, CBS Sports reported yesterday.
In an interview during the network's telecast of the Miami-Florida State football game, Miami Athletic Director Sam Jankovich declined to confirm that Miami would join. But he said: "We're leaning that way. . . . We could have a chance of making an announcement in the relatively near future."
Those comments from Jankovich came a few hours after he said in a pregame news conference Miami might delay a self-imposed Oct. 16 deadline for deciding its athletic plans to keep alive the possibility of joining the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The ACC, conference sources said, decided in the past week not to railroad through a 10th member, after adding Florida State as its ninth school last month. There are league meetings scheduled Wednesday and next Sunday during which expansion probably will be discussed, but no decisions are expected, a source said.
Jankovich said in the CBS interview that three issues still need to be resolved: a review of academic records; revenue-sharing; and the football options for the Hurricanes, an independent powerhouse in that sport.
But joining the Big East would give the Hurricanes a basketball league affiliation -- and a share of the conference's multimillion-dollar television revenues. It also brings them into Northeast markets, which represent their second-largest source of students, alumni and fund-raising, and allows them to retain a national football schedule.
Jankovich said remaining independent in football remains an option, but the football affiliation is what is most attractive to the Big East. Tranghese said recently that the addition of Miami may be the most important move in the conference's survival as a national power in basketball.
Tranghese and other conference officials are leery that at some point in the future, the nation's major football schools, for economic reasons, may decide their own national basketball championship.
So, as conferences and independents talk almost daily about realignment and expansion, Tranghese considers Miami's addition as giving the Big East's three Division I-A schools leverage in getting a football alliance that would ensure the Big East's future as a basketball power and continue the established home-and-home rivalries.
The Big East's No. 1 objective is a football alliance with the ACC, which was lukewarm about the proposal in the spring, but is expected to consider it.