John Swofford discusses ACC's issues
PINEHURST, N.C. -- NCAA probes have combined to make for yet another long summer across the ACC, and the man who heads the league wants those questions answered so the focus can return to competition -- not compliance.
"Any time one of our schools has an NCAA problem, wherever it is and whichever one it is, I'm disappointed and concerned because that's not who we are as a league," commissioner John Swofford said. "When you have those kinds of problems, you don't step back from what your cornerstones are and what you're all about. You try to fix them and move forward."
But I am for tough ramifications for rule-breakers. I am for consistency and how that's applied from case to case. I am for expediency. And I am for simplicity, so that people can understand what's going on, how it's going on and understand and see the consistency from case to case to case.” -- ACC commissioner John Swofford
Swofford touched on a range of mostly business- and rule-related topics during his 45-minute question-and-answer session, saying that multi-year scholarships are an idea worth discussing, that college sports are "at a tipping point" because so much money is involved and that the stoked emotions and intense competition in college sports inevitably lead some to exercise bad judgment.
"When those bad choices are made, quite honestly, to have the risk of doing so needs to be that, 'Hey, I'm not taking that risk. It's not worth it,' " Swofford said. "I'm not sure we've done that.
"I don't want to get out of balance here in terms of giving you the impression that I think everybody's head should be cut off. That's not what I mean," he added. "But I am for tough ramifications for rule-breakers. I am for consistency and how that's applied from case to case. I am for expediency. And I am for simplicity, so that people can understand what's going on, how it's going on and understand and see the consistency from case to case to case."
North Carolina continues to wait for the conclusion of an NCAA investigation that surfaced publicly last summer and wound up costing 14 players at least one game.
The school received its notice of allegations from the NCAA in June outlining "potential major violations," including unethical conduct by former associate head coach John Blake and a failure to monitor the conduct of current and former players, and is scheduled to appear before the NCAA's committee on infractions in late October.
"Honestly, we don't really think about that too much," North Carolina center Jonathan Cooper said. "It's in the back of our minds, but that's just it. It's on the back burner. ... I don't have any control over what happens."
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Georgia Tech was recently placed on four years of probation, fined $100,000 and stripped of their final three games in 2009 -- including their ACC title game win over Clemson and their Orange Bowl loss to Iowa -- for using an ineligible player.
"I get to keep my ring, and I get to tell people we won the ACC championship in 2009," Roddy Jones said. "I get to go out and play this year. The NCAA has no bearing on what goes on this year, and we're very focused on getting back to an ACC championship game this year, because that would really, I guess, alleviate a lot of the stuff that's been going on around us."
The NCAA says the school should have declared receiver Demaryius Thomas ineligible for accepting $312 worth of clothing that year from Calvin Booker, a former Georgia Tech quarterback working for an agent. It also said athletic director Dan Radakovich violated NCAA rules by telling coach Paul Johnson that Thomas and another player would soon be interviewed.
Johnson "definitely had to address it when it came up, but in his address, he said, 'It doesn't mean anything to us. It doesn't mean anything to the 2011 team,' " Jones said. "A lot of the guys didn't play on that team, or didn't play a lot, or weren't at Tech at the time. So for the older guys, it's about setting an example and moving forward, and I think we've done a good job of doing that."
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.