ACC Commissioner John Swofford announced at the conclusion of the league's meetings this week in Amelia Island, Fla., that the ACC would continue with a 16-game league schedule at least through the 2007-08 season.
Miami and Virginia Tech will join the league this year, giving it 11 members, and Boston College will bring the total to 12 in 2004-05. Raycom, the Charlotte-based television company that is finalizing a renegotiated deal to syndicate ACC basketball games, wanted to expand the league schedule to 18 games because games between conference rivals are its highest-rated games of the year.
"The more conference games, the better," Raycom CEO Ken Haines said. "They're the best conference games in the country. But the decision is theirs, not ours."
The coaches, more than anyone, decided that expanding to 18 games would be too much. Maryland Coach Gary Williams said the coaches are mindful of continuing to being able to play high-level nonconference games.
"We've established ourselves by playing teams coast-to-coast," Williams said. "We want to continue to do that. With 18 games, it restricts your ability to be able to go out and play quality nonconference games."
Last year, for instance, Maryland played Florida, Duke and Wake Forest both played Texas, and North Carolina played Connecticut, just a few of the marquee interconference games that might be lost should two more difficult ACC games be added.
Williams has been involved in an 18-game league schedule before, when he was at Ohio State in the late 1980s. He said the rigors of that kind of schedule wear on a team.
"It just killed you," Williams said. "People have to understand how tough games in our league are. It's already tough. The coaches didn't want two more games like that."
-- Barry Svrluga