Florida St. steps back, ponders possible offer to join the ACC


The roles have apparently reversed in the intricate little expansion dance between the Atlantic Coast Conference and Florida State.

To this point, Florida State has been the ardent pursuer, asking the ACC for its hand on the dance floor, seeking to become the league's ninth member.

And the ACC has played it coy, intrigued by the offer but not sure that it wants to cut the rug with the asker.

But, even as the ACC prepares to vote either today or tomorrow on whether to extend an invitation to the good folks at Tallahassee, those folks are taking a step back and reviewing their options.

Bernard Sliger, Florida State's president, said yesterday the school probably will not announce until next Wednesday its decision on whether to join the ACC, the Southeastern Conference, or remain as an independent in football and a member of the Metro Conference in basketball and other sports.

Sliger said the school's athletic board must make a recommendation to him before he can announce his decision, which must be ratified by the school's board of regents.

The athletic board will hear today from Charles Erhardt, the school's faculty representative, and athletic director Bob Goin.

Florida State also has been pursued by the SEC, which last month accepted Arkansas as its 11th member. Roy Kramer, the SEC's commissioner, visited Tallahassee Tuesday to meet with school officials.

However, Sliger said the ACC's package is more lucrative.

Florida State is viewed as being more academically compatible with the ACC. But if it became the 12th member of the SEC, that conference would then be permitted under NCAA rules to separate into two divisions. Its divisional winners could meet in a playoff to decide a league champion, thus making the SEC more attractive to television.

Meanwhile, officials from the ACC's eight current member schools are scheduled to meet in Greensboro, N.C., either today or tomorrow to decide whether to ask Florida State to join.

Six votes will be needed to accept Florida State, which is the only school under consideration for membership, according to ACC commissioner Gene Corrigan.

Newly appointed Maryland athletic director Andy Geiger said that he had "participated in some discussion with the Maryland family" regarding expansion, and had talked with Corrigan.

Geiger, who will take over on Oct. 1, would not elaborate on the conversations. In his previous directorship at Stanford, Geiger opposed Pac-10 expansion. But he said last week in College Park that his views did not necessarily apply to Maryland.

If Florida State and the ACC get together, they may have Penn State to thank indirectly for it.

Earlier this year, the Nittany Lions sent shock waves through college athletics when they accepted membership into the Big Ten.

Jim Tarman, Penn State's athletic director, said his school's move was made primarily with academics in mind.

"We're a large land-grant research institution with a broad-based athletic program, like most of the Big Ten schools," said Tarman. "They [Big Ten officials] were looking for a fit. They weren't looking necessarily for athletics."

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