Quotes From Friday's Press Conference
Steger talks to the media about the impending lawsuit
Virginia Tech
June 6, 2003

Video Replay The following are quotes from Virginia Tech president Dr. Charles Steger, who addressed the media Friday afternoon in the Bowman Room.

Opening Comments from Dr. Charles W. Steger:

"I want to begin by reading you a letter that was faxed to Boston College and to Miami this morning, authored by David Hardesty, the president of West Virginia, but it was sent on behalf of the other four institutions. It says, 'It is with great regret that I inform you, on behalf of the University of Connecticut, the University of Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Virginia Tech and West Virginia, that today a suit was filed in Connecticut against the ACC, Boston College and the University of Miami. We have done so to protect our interests. We still fervently hope this matter can still be resolved and that the BIG EAST can be preserved, intact. However, we felt that we had no choice in this matter.'

As you know, over the past years, we have had a tremendous support from the friends and alumni of Virginia Tech to achieve the success that our athletic programs currently enjoy, and we feel a particular obligation to the financial, as well as emotional, investments that those individuals have placed with the institution and the trust that they have shown in us. More specifically, we feel, and I feel, of course, a particular fiduciary responsibility, to look out for the interests of the institution and the Commonwealth of Virginia. As the letter states, we genuinely regret that it has come to this step, but it is really the only tool we seem to have left to deal with the issue at hand."

What is VT hoping to accomplish with the lawsuit? Is it a stall tactic, is it financial, is it really about keeping the BIG EAST together?

Steger: "I think that it's really all three of those things, in a way. Obviously, there are significant financial impacts. Certainly, our preference is to keep the BIG EAST intact, but we think as this process has been unfolding rather rapidly in the last few weeks with the site visits by the ACC to the other schools, we think it would be particularly useful for people to take some time to slow this process down and think through the consequences and evaluate very carefully what other options might be available to us."

On the meetings with [Miami president] Donna Shalala:

Steger: "We did not specifically talk about a lawsuit. We went there to, again, ask that Miami and the other schools be receptive and open to some other possible solutions to the issue. I think we had a cordial and constructive discussion. We really reached no conclusion as a result of the meeting, however."

On determining financial damages:

Steger: "I think it will take some time to articulate and define the magnitude of [the financial damages], but let me just give you one example. The University of Connecticut invested $90 million of taxpayers' money to build a stadium so they could come in and meet the BIG EAST's requirements. That is a great deal of public money to place at risk, and then have their future potential earning places in serious jeopardy, so that gives you one example of it."

On the basis for the lawsuit:

Steger: "The BIG EAST is a corporation. Each of the presidents who serves on the governing council of the BIG EAST has a fiduciary responsibility, that is defined in law, to act in the best interest of the collective entity. That's one of the areas where we have some concern."

On future relations with the three schools if the BIG EAST stays together:

Steger: "I would say that this action, we know, will result in some tension. But I also think that we're dealing with mature individuals who have dealt with tough problems in the past, and if the spirit is there, then we would find a way to work it out."

On relations with the ACC:

Steger: "I can't speak for them. We would certainly like to see some conversations between the ACC and the BIG EAST to try to accomplish both conferences' goals. I don't give up hope that that can happen."