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Al Skinner appreciated the gesture, but he still felt somewhat out of place.Sitting among Atlantic Coast Conference coaches and officials at the league’s spring meetings in 2004, none of the decisions being made had any effect on Skinner or Boston College. With another season in the Big East remaining for the Eagles, Skinner had no interest in focusing on ACC issues.‘I realized they were talking about things that, yeah, I may be involved in, but right now it really didn’t impact me, so I had to concentrate on the Big East and prepare for that,’ the former BC men’s basketball head coach said. ‘I think they were trying to be cordial and extend a hand. … But the business at hand, for me, was the Big East.’Skinner was entering his seventh year at the helm when Boston College defected from the Big East to the ACC in October 2003, less than four months after Miami and Virginia Tech made the same move. The primary reason that fueled the ACC’s raid of the Big East was to expand from nine teams to 12, which would allow for two divisions of six teams. Most importantly, it would create a football conference championship game, with the aim of raising television revenue for the conference.While the three schools benefited from the move to the ACC, the coaches and players at each felt the disappointment of losing the familiarity of opponents and rivalries.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBut what they lost in sentimentality, they gained in competitiveness and convenience. For Miami and Virginia Tech, the change in conferences meant a less daunting travel schedule.‘The primary reason for us was that we’re right in the middle for the footprint of the ACC,’ Virginia Tech Director of Athletics Jim Weaver said. ‘One of the main reasons for us was that we are now in a bus league. We cut down tremendously on our travel expenses.’The ACC extended invitations to Virginia Tech and Miami at the same time in June, hoping to build greater television revenue with the addition of two illustrious football programs. At the time, Miami president Donna Shalala expressed disappointment that Boston College and Syracuse were not also offered invitations because the school would have benefited from increased exposure in the Northeast.At first, Miami hesitated to accept the offer while it determined potential revenue gains that would come from leaving the Big East, according to a USA Today article published June 27, 2003.For Virginia Tech, though, the decision wasn’t nearly as difficult. Weaver said when the Hokies received the invitation, they didn’t need to consider it too deeply to figure out whether or not it was the right move. Virginia Tech knew immediately that it had a brighter future in the ACC than it had in the Big East.‘We were more concerned as an institution that we should be a part of the ACC expansion,’ Weaver said. ‘Now that there was an expansion effort underway, we felt it was in our best interest to put our best foot forward and move to the ACC.’Because the decisions were made at the top of the institutional hierarchy for all three schools, coaches and players were left in the dark about their teams’ future. And for former Miami women’s basketball coach Ferne Labati, moving away from the Big East wasn’t easy to accept.‘It was sad because the whole idea with teams over a period of time in conferences is the camaraderie you develop in your conference,’ Labati said. ‘I really enjoyed every aspect of being in the Big East. From the commissioner on down, I thought it was a class organization.’Labati said she remembers being called into a meeting with the other Miami coaches and being told the school was moving to the ACC. She had never been told a move was being discussed, which left her shocked that an era she cared deeply about was ending.In Labati’s 17 seasons at Miami, the Hurricanes made nine postseason appearances and had five consecutive 20-win seasons. But they struggled in their one and only season in the ACC under Labati, going 13-16 overall and 5-11 against conference opponents.Labati and her players missed seeing the familiar faces on other teams, and especially longed for the rivalry games with Connecticut and Georgetown.So much of what had defined Labati’s time at Miami had disappeared.Sitting in that meeting with Shalala and then-Miami Athletic Director Paul Dee, Labati and her fellow coaches were asked their thoughts on the move. While there was certainly disappointment, they could only believe Dee and Shalala when they said it was the right decision for Miami.‘When I was at the University of Miami, it was all about the teams,’ Labati said. ‘It was all about the university. It was all about the athletic department. … So we just felt that if the president and the athletic director felt that it was in the best interest of the university, then it was in the best interest of us.’For Skinner, even when Boston College made the move official, he couldn’t get himself to entertain the idea of coaching in the ACC. The switch in conferences created an odd feeling for Skinner, who was essentially a member of two different leagues but only coaching games in one.Now, coaches at Syracuse and Pittsburgh are left in a similar position. Skinner said he’s certain SU men’s basketball head coach Jim Boeheim and Panthers men’s basketball head coach Jamie Dixon aren’t giving any serious thought to what life will be like in two years.‘I’m sure Jamie and Jim are just thinking about, they may even have two years in this league. That’s what they’re going to concentrate on,’ Skinner said. ‘They’re not going to think about what the future holds because who knows what it does. Something can change drastically, and all of a sudden, you’re not in that scenario.’While he said he missed the regular-season games with some of Boston College’s Big East opponents, Skinner found it most difficult to deal with no longer playing in the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden.Both he and his players missed playing on that type of stage, especially with the increased exposure that week brought to the program.‘I think anyone that is a part of the Big East loves going to New York to play in the Big East tournament,’ Skinner said. ‘From a status standpoint, from the crowd, from the historical standpoint, it’s a great environment. It’s the one time of the year when college basketball captures the biggest city in the country.’But in a new league and in a new tournament, Skinner had to practically start from scratch in building up BC’s credibility. Despite the team’s previous success, Skinner said he wanted to make sure the ACC teams knew that Boston College would bring that level of play with it.In the Eagles’ first appearance in the ACC tournament in 2006, they lost to Duke 78-76 in the championship game. That, Skinner said, proved to his new conference that Boston College was as strong as every other team and would remain competitive for as long as he was the head coach.It’s the exact same position Boeheim and Dixon will find themselves in a little more than two years from now, providing both are still at their respective schools and are forced to wait the full 27 months before officially moving to the ACC. They will lose the storied tradition and history of the Big East, but the start of a new chapter in the ACC will present a new set of challenges for their programs.For now, though, Skinner said they can’t get caught up in what’s going to happen in 27 months. There are still too many Big East games to be played for both schools to look that far down the road.‘You need to take care of business at that time,’ Skinner said. ‘And when the transition is official, then you can entertain the idea.’[email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments Published on October 2, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Chris: [email protected] | @chris_iseman read more
Ghana’s 4x100m men’s relay team took the world by surprise as they stunned team Great Britain, Spain, France in the semi-finals race to ensure qualification into the finals of the 1997 World Athletics Championship in Athens, Greece.Ghana’s team made up of Abu Duah, Eric Nkansah, Aziz Zakari, and Emmanuel Tuffuor took everyone by surprise as they managed to book a slot in the IAAF finals as the winner of their semi-final heat.How did they make the semis?The Ghanaian quartet fought off the likes of Sweden, Ukraine, Mexico, the United States of America, and Jamaica in the heats.Team Ghana recorded a national time record of 38.41 seconds to advance into the semi-finals.What happened next?The West African quartet went a step better and they stunned Great Britain, Spain, France, Italy, Poland, Qatar, and Greece.Abu Duah took off from the blocks and handed over to Eric Nkansah who tore down the back straight.Aziz Zakari burnt up the bend for Emmanuel Tuffuor popularly called ‘Koora’ to storm away in a blinding finish.Ghana recorded a time of 38.12 seconds which became a national record and it still is.So close, yet so farHowever, the team experienced a wobble at the worst time and placed 5th in the finals with a time of 38.26 seconds.Canada won that year’s final, followed by Ghana’s West African neighbours, Nigeria and Great Britain in second and third places respectively.Watch the full semi-finals race:ARCHIVES: 1995 World Athletics Championship, Gothenburg- Sweden.Men’s 4×100 Relay.Abu Duah, Aziz Zakari, Eric Nkansah, Emmanuel TuffourGhana 1st. pic.twitter.com/OaTXH7b3CN— Saddick Adams (@SaddickAdams) March 22, 2020 read more