Wilkins discusses ACC, future

CUTigers speaks extensively with Clemson's Chairman of the Board of Trustees after last night's lengthy meeting.

Was the primary reason for the meeting to discuss the new ACC deal?
Wilkins: Two primaries for us -- one, for us to get a briefing on the specifics of the ACC contracts so we could sort through fact and fiction, along with the different innuendos. Secondly, we were hoping to get a thorough discussion on tuition, a possible tuition increase, but we did not have time, really, to go into that. Those were the two main topics.

Obviously, related to the TV contract, how does it compare to other leagues, that sort of thing. We had a very thorough discussion. There were a lot of good opinions expressed. I think it was healthy for the board to have a chance to ask questions. There's so much going on. There are so many rumors going out there, it's great to all be together and make sure that everybody is on the same page, and has the same information. I think that was accomplished yesterday.

In general, is the board relatively pleased with the new deal the ACC has in place?
Wilkins: It was basically a continuation of the contract we've had for years. It had literally been renegotiated recently. Of course, we had two new teams, which caused it to get negotiated again, which resulted in an increase to schools in TV revenues.

We looked it that and had a good, positive discussion. I think I made statements, I'll be glad to make them to you…what is in the best interest is our paramount concern. It is also what we'll be governed by. We've received no proposal from any league. If we do receive a viable proposal, we're prepared to consider it, as is our responsibility to do that. Until then, we're going to continue to work to make the ACC the strongest conference possible. That's where we're moving forward.

When you say what's in the best interest for Clemson, is that being a part of a conference that's really committed to make football the top priority?
Wilkins: We'll have to decide what's in the best interest for Clemson. If we get another proposal, we'll have to compare it to the ACC. What's best for our fans? What's best for our students? What's best for our faculty and our coaches? All those things come into play. Right now, that is pure speculation. There is no proposal. There is no comparison to be made, because there is no proposal.

We're governed by -- we want to do what's best for Clemson, as we all do. We're in the ACC now. I think our charge is to make it the best conference that we can make it.

There's all the speculation with Clemson linked to the Big 12. Can that kind of speculation be positive for the school, or negative?
Wilkins: It's reality. In this day and age with the bloggers and Facebook, the Internet, you can't stop it. It's reality. The good news is it shows that we have a very active fan base. We have very enthusiastic fans that care about Clemson and have opinions about Clemson. All of that is positive.

A lot of folks seem to believe Clemson and Florida State are tied together in all of that. Is any of that true or is it all speculation?
Wilkins: Florida State is obviously an important part of the ACC. There's always speculation that Florida State and Clemson would go, be treated the same. Florida State is a strong football school in the league. Obviously, we want Florida State to stay.

Hypothetically, if Clemson was offered to join another conference, what would the steps be for that to happen?
Wilkins: That's pure speculation. A proposal would have to come before the board. We'd have thorough discussion over it. It, ultimately, would be the decision of the board, with close collaboration of the president and the athletic director. That is pure speculation. We're not preparing for that now because we have no proposal to consider.

Is the possibility of the ACC expanding again something the board has discussed?
Wilkins: We'd have to see who the schools are. Clemson, we want to continue to strengthen the ACC. That may be one way to do it. If there's a proposal before the presidents, that certainly would be considered. I can't speculate as to who that might be. Clemson, certainly, is not opposed to the ACC getting stronger and stronger. If that means adding solid football schools, I think Clemson would be very much for it.

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