Bowl consortium has tentative deal 10-year contract would start in 1993


WINTERGREEN, Va. -- Bowl officials involved in the consortium among four New Year's Day football games and the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big East and Notre Dame said yesterday that a tentative, 10-year contract has been agreed upon, but discussions will be held next week in hopes of finalizing the deal.

During a morning news conference at the ACC's annual preseason football get-together, Orange Bowl president Harper Davidson and Sugar Bowl executive director Mickey Holmes indicated that a long-term deal was necessary to ensure the success of the package, which was announced officially earlier this month. The deal also tentatively gives any party the right to drop out after five years.

"You've got to give this time to work," Holmes said.

Holmes and Davidson said there are no plans to expand the consortium, which consists of the Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Cotton Bowl and Fiesta Bowl and is scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, 1993. Nor are there plans to move any potential matchup of the No. 1- and No. 2-rated teams to a Jan. 2, prime-time slot.

Holmes said that the deal effectively should end future debate about a national championship playoff system in football. He added that recent discussions with the Presidents Commission indicate that this burgeoning force in college athletics is steadfastly against such a system.

"The playoff is passe with the presidents," said Holmes. "There has been less pressure for a playoff than at any time in my 13 years with the Sugar Bowl. But that doesn't mean it's going to be passe with other groups. It's always going to be discussed."

The only glitch that has yet to be worked out seems to be the competition among the major bowls. Should the Southeastern Conference champion be ranked No. 1 in the final poll and the Southwest Conference No. 2, it appears unlikely that either the Sugar Bowl or Cotton Bowl would release its top team for the other's game.

"The consortium was not created to replace a playoff system," Holmes said. "It's not a perfect consortium, but it's better than what we would have had."

Among other developments discussed by ACC commissioner Gene Corrigan at yesterday's news conference:

* The ACC has extended its television contracts in football and basketball through 1997. Corrigan said that the addition of Florida State, especially in football, did not have an effect on the negotiations.

"We asked what impact Florida State would have in Florida, and they said, 'Basically none,' which is a good stand to take when you're negotiating," said Corrigan. "But ACC football is in 14 markets in Florida this year, and Florida State isn't on the schedule."

* For the first time in ACC history, all profits will be shared equally by the eight pre-existing member schools. Corrigan said that only "three or four" athletic departments in the conference showed a profit last year. "If we're going to be healthy, we need everyone to be healthy," Corrigan said.

Corrigan said that Maryland was penalized part of its share in the basketball television package. Maryland athletic director Andy Geiger, who was here attending the conference, said that the penalty for the school's delayed broadcasts was about $300,000.

"They've has been totally fair with us," said Geiger of ACC officials.

* Informal discussions will continue with the Big Ten regarding a potential matchup in basketball, similar to the one being played out between the ACC and Big East. The Big East is pulling out of the Challenge Series this season, the third in a four-year package.

"Our coaches are for it," said Corrigan. "Even Dean [Smith] now wants it."

* Corrigan said that he expects recent proposals for higher academic standards to pass at next January's NCAA convention, but not without some modifications.

Under current proposals, incoming athletes would need a 2.5 grade-point average in 13 core curriculum courses. Under current legislations, athletes need a 2.0 in 11 core courses.

"I think it's going to be changed to 13 this year," said Corrigan, who has been at the forefront of the reform movements in college athletics. "But as far as the GPA is concerned, I think we'll get to that [2.5] a little more slowly."

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