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Scheduling 11 teams for football, basketball tops itinerary for ACC

Athletic department officials from the nine existing Atlantic Coast Conference schools as well as the two schools that will join the league next year, Miami and Virginia Tech, will meet today and tomorrow in Charlottesville, Va.

The issue of scheduling, particularly for football and basketball, will be the primary agenda at the league's annual fall meetings. The meetings will take place on the University of Virginia campus.

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Currently, the league plays a round-robin schedule for football as well as in men's and women's basketball. With the addition of Miami and Virginia Tech, it seems unlikely that all teams will play each other on an annual basis in football, or in a home-and-home scenario in basketball.

In basketball, it would mean that teams would play 20 league games, drastically reducing their nonconference schedules to only seven. The NCAA allows teams to play 27 games during the regular season.

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"That would be cutting it extremely thin," Virginia athletic director Craig Littlepage said yesterday.

Maryland men's basketball coach Gary Williams said that he doubts the league will go to a full round robin, and that a more likely scenario would be for each school to have two permanent partners and rotate the other schools every year. The ACC currently plays 16 league games, and could wind up going to 18.

"When I was in the Big Ten, we had 18 league games, but we didn't have a conference tournament at the end," said Williams, who coached Ohio State for three seasons before coming to Maryland in 1989. "If you have 20 games and the ACC tournament, that just knocks you out [physically]."

Because there will be an odd number of teams, the possibility of breaking into two divisions for football is unlikely, Littlepage said. Had another of the Big East's teams joined the league, there would have been enough for two divisions and, under NCAA guidelines, a postseason championship game.

The ACC has already announced that Miami and Florida State will open the 2004 college football season on Labor Day night at the Orange Bowl. The two teams, ranked second and fifth, respectively, in this week's Associated Press Top 25 poll, play Oct. 11 in Tallahassee.

While speculation exists about the ACC adding a 12th team - Boston College or Notre Dame have been mentioned - ACC associate commissioner Mike Finn said recently that further expansion isn't on the official agenda in Charlottesville.


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