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Published: Wednesday, 7/2/2003

Miami's move more evidence money is might

Enough with the pretense. Just call it what it is. Big-time college athletics is big business.

From backroom-deal-making university presidents, to dollar-crunching administrators, to win-at-all-cost boosters, to unscrupulous coaches, to what's-in-it-for-me student-athletes (and I use the term loosely), nothing is sacred anymore.

With the embarrassingly clumsy departure of Miami and Virginia Tech from the Big East Conference to the Atlantic Coast Conference, get ready for a fire sale at schools such as Pittsburgh and West Virginia.

Student-athletes who believed they were signing on to play major-college athletics in the Big East, are going to start exploring their options - i.e., transfer to another school in a bigger and better conference - as far away from the Big East as they can get.

Maybe to the ACC. Perhaps to the Big 10, Big 12, SEC or Pac-10.

Doesn't matter. The schools will all be lining up, scholarships and promises in hand.

They're all in this together.

I defy anyone to present a legitimate argument that Miami's power play wasn't all about the Benjamins - making a dollar out of 15 cents. Or that any school in any of the above major conferences wouldn't throw aside common sense and tradition in the name of good old American commercialism.

Let's stop fooling ourselves. The perception of big-time college athletics being about kids from the ghetto accepting money under the table from boosters and taking joke courses to stay eligible is far from complete.

No, that perception should be expanded to include university presidents earning in the neighborhood of six figures brokering deals, breaking promises, backstabbing each other, filing lawsuits - in the name of maintaining the all-important bottom line.

The hypocrisy is astonishing.

Some of the so-called leaders in college athletics make up new rules as they go along, instead of setting good examples for the young people they are supposed to lead.

Excuse me while I throw up.

Unless you were born yesterday, you know what's coming next.

White-collar crime, NCAA style.

The Big East is going to steal teams from Conference USA, which, in turn, will steal teams from the Mid-American Conference - all the way down the major-college food chain.

There's no honor among thieves.

And in the case of jilted Big East members Syracuse and Boston College, any day now, we can expect one of them to join the 11-member ACC, which still needs another school to become a superconference.

Mind you, both Syracuse and Boston College joined the remaining Big East schools in a lawsuit against the ACC and Miami - a lawsuit, in fact, that Virginia Tech had signed - until riding Miami's coattails into the ACC.

Can't you just hear Virginia Tech president Charles Steger apologizing to his new friends in the ACC?

“Lawsuit? We never filed any lawsuit.”

By all means, enjoy the games, the excitement. Witnessing a well-played college football game between two top-ranked programs on a picturesque autumn Saturday afternoon is out of sight.

But try to keep everything in perspective. Don't fall for the hype.

Big-time college athletics are nothing more than big business.



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