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BC's Donahue steps up from Ivy League to ACC

BOSTON (AP) — After thrusting Cornell into the national spotlight with three straight Ivy League titles and a trip to the Sweet 16, Steve Donahue has an even tougher task at Boston College.

He needs to make the Eagles relevant in their hometown.

The former Cornell coach was introduced at BC on Wednesday — first to the media, and then at a campus pep rally to students who've yawned through seven NCAA tournament berths in nine years and a switch to the Atlantic Coast Conference that was intended to bring big-time college basketball to Boston.

"We'll do everything we can to make everybody feel good about Boston College basketball," Donahue said. "I believe that's my job."

Donahue led the Big Red to a 29-5 record this season — the most wins in Ivy history — and the school's first ranking in The Associated Press Top 25 in 59 years. Cornell beat favored Temple and Wisconsin in the NCAAs — its first NCAA wins ever — and was the first Ivy team to reach the Sweet 16 in more than three decades. Cornell lost to No. 1 seed Kentucky 62-45 in the East Regional semifinals.

"While we are all saddened to lose Steve as our head coach, we wish him and his family terrific success at Boston College," Cornell athletic director Andy Noel said. "Under his leadership, Cornell basketball has reached unprecedented heights."

Donahue replaces Al Skinner, who in 13 years in Chestnut Hill was the winningest coach in BC history. But he was fired after two losing seasons in three years, while attendance at Conte Forum declined in each of the past four seasons.

Donahue thinks he can change that.

"It's the most passionate sports region in the country. We play in the best conference in the country," Donahue said. "We want everyone on board. ... I find it hard to believe if we play (an exciting) brand of basketball, and do it in the ACC, that we won't fill the building."

For the second straight season, an ACC team won the national championship, with Duke's win on Monday night following North Carolina's title in 2009.