The University of Miami’s Athletic Department has seen drastic changes within the National Collegiate Athletic Association. After 12 years of Big East conference play the UM Athletic Department transferred to the ACC in 2003. Before that it was independent for 48 years.
“When the University of Miami accepted an invitation to join the Atlantic Coast Conference [in 2003] it was for four main reasons,” said UM’s deputy athletic director Tony Hernandez. “Future security of the Athletic Department, the stability of the ACC, the financial long term security of the program and the similarities between UM and the other ACC members.”
This past May, ESPN signed the rights to broadcast ACC football and basketball games, beating out Fox. The new media deal is more than doubling revenue, estimated at $155 million annually, for the ACC.
“The recent media deal offers us the financial security that we expected when we joined the ACC,” Hernandez said. “This revenue will aid us in accomplishing our strategic plan and our goals.”
Miami teams could not participate in conference revenue until UM’s move into the Big East.
In 2003, the Big East offered Miami an annual rate of $9.7 million to stay in its conference and also agreed to pay additional travel expenses for the next five years. It was not until the 2006-07 school year that Miami earned more than the Big East’s offer in ACC sharing revenue.
Craig Barnes’ story from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in 2003 quoted UM’s President, Donna Shalala, on her opinion of the switch: “There is a fundamental difference in the way money is distributed. In the Big East, the more successful you were, the more money you got. If you look at the ACC, it is even distribution; everyone gets the same thing,” she said.
Shalala also held a televised press conference in the end of June 2003 where she further elaborated the conference move.
“I don’t want to pretend that money isn’t a factor here, particularly in the long run,” Shalala said. “It was the combination; it’s the overall fit for all of our athletic programs.”
UM TODAY IN THE ACC
As a part of the Big East, Miami’s football team was “at the top” of the conference during its run from 1991 to 2003. It scored nine conference championships (two are not official because the Big East did not start full league play until 1993) and its last National Championship in 2001.
“What we in the ACC are missing is that team, at the top, competing for the national championship,” UM’s Athletic Director, Kirby Hocutt said in June when speaking on The Jorge Sedano Show.
It has been seven years since the change from the Big East to ACC, with UM not yet nearing a national title.
“We enjoyed our time in the Big East, but our move and current alliance with the ACC has been tremendous for the entire Miami Athletics Department,” said football head coach, Randy Shannon.
This year, Shannon signed on for four more years as head coach. Being a former outside linebacker for UM’s 1987 National Championship and having several years in varied coaching positions for UM football, he expressed optimism for the future of the program.
“Our vision is constant improvement. We want to always be improving on the field, in the classroom and in the community. It is a process and something we have put great faith into. As those improvements continue, and we are persistent and devoted to the process, we will be in a position to win championships,” he said.
UM’s recent athletic graduation success rates on NCAA.org rank UM football at 75 percent.
Other men’s sport teams are 73 percent or higher, except for baseball, which swings in at 45 percent, and women’s sport teams don’t fall under 85 percent.
As a whole, however, the graduation success rates are on the rise for UM’s student athletes since joining the ACC.
“The most pride I get out of being a coach is watching my student athletes walk across the stage after their four-years,” said women’s tennis head coach and 2009 ACC Coach of the Year, Paige Yaroshok-Tews.
The women’s tennis team at UM has shown great transition from the Big East to the ACC, not missing a spot in the NCAA tournament since 1996.
“Athletically speaking, the ACC conference is the toughest in the country on the women’s side,” Yaroshok-Tews said.
“We aren’t necessarily the most talented group every season, but we are the fittest, hardest-working group who learns to handle the pressure that comes with being a top ten team.”
Even though UM’s baseball team holds the lowest graduation success rate, head coach Jim Morris said he spends 89 percent of the time with his players in his office, relating to
academics and making sure they are attending classes.
Going on his 17th season, Morris has led his team to 11 College World Series, two of which were in the ACC, as well as an ACC championship in 2008.
“The ACC is well known for its athletic excellence and we are proud to be a part of this excellence,” Hernandez said.
“Competitive excellence is one of our shared goals and achieving this is an integral part of our strategic plan. [An example] is our baseball program, which has participated in the NCAA post season for a record 38 consecutive years.”
UM’s athletic teams will continue to make their mark in the ACC both athletically and academically. The ACC represents the competitive spirit that UM athletes portray both in the classroom and on the field.
VERTICAL JUMP: Collecting eight starts for the Hurricanes last year, senior middle-blocker Arielle Cooke celebrates with height after placing a kill against Clemson University. Volleyball is one of the 15 University of Miami division one sports teams that plays in the Atlantic Coast Conference.