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If a deal is struck between the University of Miami and the Big East Conference, it could trigger a football alliance between what would be the Big East's four football-playing schools and the Atlantic Coast Conference's nine institutions, Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese said this week.

Such an alignment is preferred by the Big East as the best long-term solution to making sure its survives as a major basketball conference, which would remain intact, according to Tranghese. There is the possibility of losing Syracuse and Pitt. The ACC last spring showed little interest in this alliance.But assistant ACC commissioner Tom Mickle said Monday that the initial``lukewarm' reaction was reached before the ACC began talks with Florida State and the Big East started talks with Miami.

Mickle also left open the possibility the talks would resume if Miami joins the Big East. ``It's not to say it couldn't happen down the road,' he said.

The ACC also plans to have exploratory talks with Miami as soon as Commissioner Gene Corrigan returns this week from a vacation, according to ACC and Big East officials.

Larry Wahl, a Miami spokesman, said the ACC is one of several options the Hurricanes are considering, including the Big East, the Southeastern and the Southwest conferences.

Of Miami's possibility of joining the Big East, Wahl said, ``The only thing we've been saying is that the Big East is one of the options we've been looking at, and that we would hope to have a decision by mid-October whether or not we're going into a conference and, if so, what that conference would be.'

University of Miami Athletic Director Sam Jankovich met for more than three hours Tuesday with representatives of the Big East Conference to discuss a possible affiliation.

Attending were Tranghese, Georgetown Athletic Director Frank Rienzo, and the athletic directors from the conference's three football-playing schools, Jake Crouthamel of Syracuse, Edward Bozik of Pittsburgh and Bill Flynn of Boston College.

``We had constructive meetings, with a wide-ranging discussion of items from revenue sharing to the various possibilities of a football conference either within or outside the Big East,' Jankovich said in a statement released by the university.

``Like the Metro Conference and SEC, the Big East will be coming to our campus in the near future for further discussions. They are following the same pattern as the other conferences in terms of not extending any bids until a school is serious about accepting one.'

Tranghese also said he is not enamored with two divisions in basketball, a position also held by former commissioner Dave Gavitt.

The Big East is discussing several other possible football alliances, Tranghese said.

Miami's entrance into the Big East would make sense for both parties, especially if it provides the impetus for a Big East-ACC football alliance. ``I believe it probably would be,' the best of both worlds, Crouthamel said. ``It would preserve the Big East without doing anything radical.'

Joining the Big East also makes sense for Miami in terms of demographics. ``Our second recruiting base, behind Florida, is the Northeast,' Wahl said. ``It's the same with the alumni base, the general student body base and the fund-raising base.'

A 13-team team, two-division football league would make this one of the strongest football alignments in the country, including six of the strongest football programs in the country - Miami, Florida State, Clemson, Virginia, Pitt and Syracuse.

``It solves a basketball problem for Miami, and a football problem for us,' Tranghese said.

``If you don't have an alliance with football schools, you're going to be left out in the future,' Tranghese predicted. ``The superconferences will say, 'Why do I have to share the money?' The whole (new basketball tournament) plan is to be fair to everyone.

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