Swofford Hosts Commissioner's Forum

ACC Commissioner opens by welcoming Pitt and Syracuse to the conference. He also talks about future members Notre Dame and Louisville, a possible ACC television network, and future plans for ACC Championships.

ACC Commissioner John Swofford held his Commissioner's Forum, as part of Sunday's opening festivities of the 2013 ACC Football Kickoff.

Swofford addressed the media for 20 minutes, before fielding questions for another 20 minutes.

At the top of Swofford's agenda, was expansion. He welcomed new members Pittsburgh and Syracuse, which will begin play this season and became official members of the conference at the beginning of to month.

"We're excited about the relationships we have with Pitt and Syracuse, and what they bring in terms of athletics, academics and compliance," Swofford noted.

He was also optimistic about the future, which includes Notre Dame and Louisville joining. Both schools will officially join the conference a year from now. However, Notre Dame will be a full member in everything except for football.

The Irish will play five games each year against ACC schools, which may affect its future series with the Panthers. The two teams will meet this year, but the series is in question for 2014 and beyond.

As for the Irish remaining independent in football, Swofford covered a couple of side topics, in regards to that. For example, what if a school such as Florida State wanted to go independent in football, or Duke go independent for basketball? What does he say to those schools, if that question comes up? Sort of a, 'if Notre Dame can do it, why can't we?'

"It hasn't been an issue, it won't be an issue," Swofford said.

He also note that if Notre Dame decides down the road, to align itself in a conference for football, they are contractually obligated (based on its agreement to join the ACC for other sports) to join the ACC for football. The earliest that would happen would be the 2026-27 school year.

Another big topic was the idea of an ACC television network, much the way the Big Ten started with its own network, and more recently, the SEC starting theirs.

in July of 2010, ESPN and the ACC initially came to a 12-year contract that wa to begin for the 2011-12 school year. Of course, in that 2011-12 school year, Pitt and Syracuse were invited as members. As a result, the ACC was able to tack on to that 12-year contract, extending it to a $3.6 billion dollar contract for 15 years through the 2026-27 year. It means a $17.1 million dollar payout for each ACC school, something that will benefit Pitt right away.

Clearly, the ESPN relationship is important to Swofford. While an ACC TV network is a topic, he wants to look at it delicately, to keep the good relationship with ESPN.

"The ACC Channel is something we'll continuously evaluate, but it's something we'll do if it makes sense for ESPN," Swofford added. "ESPN has done a good job of making sure ACC content is available anytime, anyplace, anywhere."

Currently, the ACC Network will broadcast games for an affiliate station in every bowl city, every ACC city, as well as some other major markets.

Swofford estimated that by the year 2030, 55% of the U.S. population will lie within the 'ACC footprint.'

Another topic was a location for the 2014 ACC Championship football game. The 2013 game is set for Charlotte, a place Swofford praised for its location, its hospitality, its existing relationship with the conference. He also cited the game's ability to have several major hotels within walking distance, but also hinted at hosting the ACC Basketball Championships. A new baseball stadium is being constructed in downtown Charlotte for the Triple-A Chicago White Sox affiliate, Charlotte Knights. It could also serve as a venue for the ACC Baseball Championships.

"It's a great city, an energetic city, an outstanding facility, within walking distance of hotels, a very positive environment," Swofford said. "It's being enhanced with a new baseball stadium. We are still deciding the future home of the ACC Football Championship."

On a less lighter note, Swofford answered questions about possible upcoming sanctions against the University of Miami. Swofford traveled to Indianapolis to help represent the school. Though he didn't defend Miami for its actions, he sent a fair message towards the NCAA, in how they should handle any sanctions.

"I thought Miami and their personnel, their leadership, handled it extraordinarily," Swofford said. "I would hope that whatever is coming, comes before the season starts. I'll be very disappointed if that's not the case."

The Commissioner touched on a couple major subjects that are national issues, in regards to college football. That would be the idea of paying players, and doing more to cut down on the number of concussions.

"'I'm not for paying players, that's not what college athletics is about, but maybe looking for ways to enhance the scholarship," Swofford said.

He cited perhaps coming up with need-based aid depending on an individual player's situation. Recently, the SEC voted to offer a player's expense, to cover basic expenses. It would be a fee of $300 a week for a football player, and something comparable for basketball.

The SEC football coaches unanimously voted for the plan their coaches meeting. Of course, it needs to be approved by the conference office, and then passed by the NCAA to go into effect.

With the 2013 season being the last season for the current BCS format, the 2014 season will be the first for a playoff system in determining a national champion. Swofford has had a hand in the BCS selection process, and is also expected to take place in this new playoff format.

"The committee will need some bench marks," Swofford said. "There will be some parameters and criteria to have credibility. What we were hearing back from football fans is that they trusted people in the room more than they did computers."

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