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Thursday, February 14, 2013
On the record: John Swofford, Part II

By Heather Dinich

On Tuesday, I spoke with ACC commissioner John Swofford about a variety of topics currently facing the ACC. You can read the first part of it here. The following is the second part of our interview:

Where does Charlotte stand in terms of being locked in as the permanent home for the ACC football championship?

JS: We had some discussion about that as well. Without finalizing anything, but certainly we have been very pleased by and large with the game in Charlotte -- two sellouts in the first three years.

Was this the last year of the contract?

JS: No, we’ve got one more year left. We’ll make a determination on that by the time that game is played, or certainly very close to the time that game is played.

You mentioned the NCAA deregulation. What’s your stance or the ACC’s stance on it?

JS: Generally speaking, I would say we like the idea of less minutia in the rule book in allowing compliance officers to focus on the more significant issues that relate to the integrity of college athletics. I think our group feels, generally speaking, that too much time and effort has gone into trying to control some of the minutia aspects and not enough emphasis on the major integrity issues that really have potentially a very negative impact on what we all do. Whether we’ve landed in the right spot with the new proposals is certainly a topic of conversation within our league, and obviously from a national standpoint. We’ll just have to see on that. Jim Barker at Clemson has been very involved with that and with the efforts to get us out of some of the minor kinds of issues that really don’t matter a great deal and with more focus on the major things from a rules standpoint. I think a great deal of progress has been made with that. Hopefully, generally speaking, we’ve landed in the right spot, but I think some of that is going to have to continue to play out before we know that for sure.

I saw the Big Ten has been talking about moving to a nine- or 10-game league schedule. How much have you paid attention to that, and will that play a role in the ACC’s scheduling decisions in the future?

JS: We’ve vetted the scheduling numbers a great deal over the last couple of years. With the growth of the conference, we had eventually decided to go to nine. And then when we came to the agreement with Notre Dame, playing five football games a year against our schools, and developing a rotation on that, our schools felt with that addition that they would prefer to stay at eight rather than move forward going to nine. That’s where we are at this point. I think as we gain experience as a 14-member league with built-in games against Notre Dame, we’ll see if we’ve landed in the right spot, but that’s where we are at this point in time, and that’s what we’ll be moving forward with in the future.

What about the possibility of an ACC TV network? Where do those talks stand right now?

JS: We’re having that conversation. We’re looking at it in a very strategic way to see if it is feasible and is the best route for us to go moving forward. We’re all in with ESPN in our contractual agreements. We’re having discussions on those moving forward with Notre Dame as a part of that, and then Louisville becoming a member of the league. We’re looking at the current structure, as well as the possibility of a channel. And those discussions all involve ESPN. The good news is that in terms of distribution, when you’re with ESPN and their commitment to the new technology that’s there and the ability to show content anywhere, anytime, anyplace, basically, as we look forward from a distribution standpoint, we’re in great shape. From a financial standpoint, we’re by far better off than we’ve ever been before as a league -- quite competitive, generally speaking, with other leagues at our level. We’re analyzing that with the help of Wasserman and ESPN. That will take a period of time to thoroughly evaluate and see what the possibilities are and if it’s in our best interest to go that route or not.