PONTE VEDRA BEACH — The Big East meetings ended Tuesday much like they began: with Miami mulling a decision that will shape the future of the conference and college athletics, and everyone else waiting for the answer.
Miami Athletic Director Paul Dee said he heard some “new ideas” during the four-day meetings, which focused primarily on the Atlantic Coast Conference’s attempt to lure the Hurricanes, Syracuse and Boston College away from the Big East. Now Dee will take those ideas back to university president Donna Shalala for consultation and consideration.
“This has become much more complicated,” Dee said. “It’s not black and white. … We came here with an open mind, we came here to listen and we’ve done a lot of discussion. It’s been productive. Those are not just empty words.”
Dee said there was no timetable for making a decision.
“You have to do things in a reasonable amount of time or it dies under its own weight,” he said. “The sooner you can get everything done and get a decision made to move on, the better.”
Dee had little response to Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese’s words from Monday, when he questioned Miami’s integrity for considering leaving the conference that gave the Hurricanes a home in 1991 when nobody else wanted them.
“Just go look at the record the last 12 years,” Dee said.
Tranghese ripped Miami officials during a 30-minute news conference Monday, asking Shalala to honor her commitment to the Big East and recognize how drastically the move could harm college sports.
The commissioner implored Miami and the other two schools to appreciate the history of a conference that began in 1979, helped revive college basketball on the East Coast and, most recently, became a powerhouse in several sports.
A few hours later, at a Big East dinner, Rutgers Athletic Director Robert Mulcahy stood up and proposed a toast to Tranghese. He received a standing ovation.
“I think maybe some people perceived we were just going to sit back and let them walk out,” Mulcahy said. “We’re not doing that.”
The conference held its longest session of the meetings Tuesday, then broke a day early after spending most of the four days addressing, assessing and analyzing the most obvious topic — how to keep Miami from moving to the ACC.
With television revenue being of Miami’s biggest concerns, the Big East brought a television consultant to the final day of meetings. Athletic directors termed the discussions productive. None, though, gave details of what was said.
They left the meetings with mixed feelings about whether they might have impacted Miami’s decision.
“My optimism gauge changes from day to day, but I feel as good as one could feel at this point,” West Virginia Athletic Director Ed Pastilong said.
Said Pittsburgh executive vice chancellor Jerry Cochran, attending in place of new AD Jeff Long: “I feel the same way today as I did when I walked in here Friday.”