The Big East Conference announced Tuesday it would add Virginia Tech as a full member starting in the 2001-2002 season.
In response, GW Athletic Director Jack Kvancz said Wednesday that move would have no effect on GW’s conference status, and, if he had his way, the Atlantic 10 would remain an 11-team conference for basketball.
Virginia Tech has competed in the Big East Football Conference ever since it joined the elite I-A conference as a charter member in 1991. Since 1996, 14 other Hokie sports, including men’s and women’s basketball, have competed in the A-10, whose football conference competes on the I-AA level. Virginia Tech has not played all its sports in a single league since 1965, when it and GW played in the Southern Conference. GW joined the A-10 as a charter member in 1977.
The Hokies were offered a chance, in June, to join the Big East as early as 2000-2001. But if Virginia Tech had left then, it would have faced a $500,000 fine from the A-10. Still, Tech’s scheduled departure in two years has caused rumors that the A-10 might add a new member or that GW and other schools (like Temple, which competes in the Big East Football Conference) might depart, too. Kvancz doesn’t see that happening.
“Where would we go?” Kvancz said. “UMass is the only school that might go somewhere in future years, if they get a stadium, because of their rivalry with (the University of) Connecticut, who is moving up to I-A. But as for Temple – the Big East doesn’t want them as a full member.”
As for replacing Virginia Tech, Kvancz isn’t eager to do so without good reason.
“This is one man’s opinion,” Kvancz said. “This has nothing to do with the league. But I don’t add anybody. Twelve is not a magic number for basketball. It is for football because the Southeastern Conference has shown how much money a championship game can get. If we’re going to add someone, it has to enhance the conference. You have to get someone with a good RPI (a ranking system).
“If DePaul (University) called tomorrow and said they wanted to be in the league, sure, I’d take DePaul. But that’s not likely to happen. Until you see the cast of characters and put the word out to whoever wants to join, I don’t see any reason to have 12 members.”
Kvancz said Virginia Tech’s loss will not greatly harm the league.
“They’re a good member for us, but they’re not a corner-block of the league,” he said. “We knew when we took them that they would leave if they could get an all-sports conference.”
Kvancz also said there is one plus to the departure.
“If you get X amount of dollars, and you divide it 12 ways or 11. Well, you do the math,” Kvancz said.
Kvancz said there is the possibility the deal will fall through, since the Rev. Philip Smith, chair of the Conference Presidents Committee, said in a statement the Big East expansion is conditional on there being no changes in the current structure of the conference. Kvancz thinks the University of Miami might leave, killing the deal.
Kvancz said the A-10 will hold its fall meeting Sept. 8-9 and the subject will undoubtedly be discussed there. Kvancz stressed his opinion is purely his, and that other members may be more inclined to replace the Hokies.
But there is two years to discuss it.
“We’ve got plenty of time,” Kvancz said.
* Forward Elena Vishniakova transferred to GW from the University of Georgia, Women’s head basketball coach Joe McKeown announced Wednesday.
The 6-4 Vishniakova was a two-year starter at Georgia, which made the Final Four last season. Due to NCAA transfer rules, Vishniakova will sit out the 1999-2000 season. She will have two years of eligibility beginning in the 2000-2001 season. A native of St. Petersburg, Russia, Vishniakova averaged 7.7 points per game last season and 6.2 rebounds.
“She’s an outstanding forward whose style reminds me of Noelia Gomez,” McKeown said in a University press release. “She will really fit into our style of play, and I’m excited for her to be a part of our program.”
* Jack Kvancz said the Smith Center basketball court, which was altered before last season when it became the Larry “Tex” Silverman Court, will not be altered in any way until May, when it may be redone.
Kvancz said the athletic department would love to put the new logo on the floor (replacing the old logo that is seen in the endzones) but that putting it at center court would make it impossible to have the required center line.
Putting the logo at other places on the floor will be looked into this season as it will take some experimentation to see how the colorful logo looks from the stands and particularly on television.
-Zach Leibowitz contributed to this report.