Commission Swofford Addresses the Media

ACC officials addressed the media today in an hour-long opening session at the ACC Media Kickoff being held in Greensboro, NC.

Commissioner John Swofford led off the session with a general address and then followed with a question and answer session. He covered a variety of topics including ACC academic achievement, the new ACC deal with ESPN, bowl tie-ins, the national perception of ACC football, conference expansion, and the perceived uptick in the influence of agents and their "runners" in the college game.

The topic of agents and their influence seemed to dominate the media questions and Swofford's time. At one point, he spent over 10 minutes on the topic. Swofford first noted that while he believes the problem is worse now than in the past, he believes that this is largely an area that is being spotlighted by the NCAA more so than in the past. He also added that there was no single solution to the problem. He outlined a number of measures – some within the control of the NCAA and schools and some that were not – to address the problem. A strong emphasis was placed on education at the school and culture as the best measures within the collegiate ranks. However, the biggest means of controlling agents and their runners is outside of the NCAA and through the NFL and the NFL Player's Association as well as the enforcement of laws against the behavior. Currently, there is no accountability among agents to the NCAA. However, 38 states currently have laws against certain agent behaviors – including North Carolina (currently investigating the UNC player incidents). While the NFL and NFLPA do not have any accountability for agents in place, it seemed that conversations are likely to take place with collegiate officials. Last, he believed a full audit and analysis of the existing agent rules within the NCAA would be in order – noting that this has been done in the past.

Another interesting topic that Commissioner Swofford addressed was around the perception of the ACC football brand nationally and the lack of ACC presence in the national championship picture. Swofford noted, "You want to be there." He noted that VT finished 3rd recently. But, he added that the conference won't get the attention and respect nationally unless you have teams in the hunt. The BCS championship game has become huge and it contributes to the overload on the perception for teams and conferences not involved.

As one would expect, Swofford also addressed the topic of conference expansion. While nothing public was done, Swofford indicated that a lot of evaluation and analysis has occurred behind the scenes to ensure a viable future for the conference. This evaluation included what a 14 or 16 team ACC would look like. At this point, Swofford and the ACC presidents believe that a 12 member conference is the right size. But, if events or circumstances warrant, the conference will make the necessary moves to ensure the ACC remains strong and prominent. Along these lines, the new deal with ESPN has ensured that conference members receive the financial support required as well as the exposure necessary to keep the programs in the forefront. A side note to those interested is that Raycom will continue to play a part in both ACC football and basketball as part of the ACC deal.

Associate Commissioner of Communications and Football Operations Mike Kelly also provided his comments. Of particular note was his comments concerning the ACC Football Championship game. The lower level sideline and a significant portion of the club seats have now been purchased. The remaining club seats as well as the upper level tickets are on sale. The upper level seats are available at $40 and $25.

Finally, Associate Commission of Football Officials Doug Rhoads provided a quick update on rule changes and clarifications for 2010 and also a preview of rule changes forthcoming in 2011. A longer, more detailed session on the rule changes is scheduled for tomorrow. But, the list of changes for 2010 includes a limitation of wedge blocking on kickoffs, the ability of officials to send players to medical staff for suspected concussions, limiting contact by offensive and defensive players with the crown of the helmet, and crackback blocks. An interesting rule change for 2011 that is forthcoming is the change of an unsportmanlike penalty during a scoring play to become a live ball foul enforced from the spot of the foul instead of following the play.


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