Swofford Expresses Optimism for ACC Network Launch at 2017 ACC Football Kickoff

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John Swofford ACC Network
Despite struggles at ESPN, ACC Commissioner John Swofford is confident in the short and long-term success of the ACC Network once launched (Photo by Sara D. Davis)

CHARLOTTE, N.C — As 2017 ACC Football Kickoff began on Thursday, ACC commission John Swofford met with the media and addressed a variety of topics, including the ACC Network, Notre Dame, and scandals at Louisville and UNC.

ACC Network: Nothing New to Report

Swofford declined to offer much insight into the development of the ACC Network with ESPN.

“I’m sure some of you may have questions related to the network, but I trust you will understand that we’re at a stage in our timetable and process with ESPN where it’s simply not going to be prudent for us to discuss until we reach the launch, the specific business aspects that are a work in progress,” Swofford said.

Swofford was referring to questions surrounding the launch of the ACC Network, slated to kick off in 2019. ESPN has struggled with the ever-changing cable subscription landscape, and has been forced to cut costs due to high expenses in media rights and decreased revenue from cable and satellite providers. ESPN has laid off dozens of employees on and off-air, sparking further questions about the company’s long-term financial outlook.

Media members wanted to hear Swofford’s take on the matters, but he declined to oblige. Instead, Swofford expressed optimism about the network’s launch and long-term impact.

“Preparing to produce and distribute over 1,500 events between the linear and digital networks requires a lot of planning and preparation and obviously some lead time to do it right and launch it in the way we want to launch it,” Swofford said. “ACC and ESPN teams are diligently working to complete the multiple tasks that are required for the launch, and we’re extremely pleased with the progress. And not only pleased with the progress, we’re, as a part of that, right on schedule.”

For now, Swofford says the ACC is in good position with its media rights, primarily through ESPN and Raycom, as well as the ACC Digital Network.

Divisional Realignment, Addition of Notre Dame Not on the Table

Swofford did field questions regarding conference realignment, in terms of divisional changes within the conference. Coastal teams will often go years without seeing a non-rival from the Atlantic, a problem that Swofford says isn’t unique to the ACC.

“I don’t know. I don’t have an answer to that really. I think that’s probably one of the — one of those challenges that any league that gets to 14 [members] has,” Swofford said. “I mean, there’s no easy solution to that. And what’s right for one conference might not be right for another conference. But it’s pretty much — it’s very similar in every league of our size. I think that’s one of the — you know, in an ideal world you’d love for everybody to play everybody.”

For now, the ACC has no plans to redraw the divisional lines.

As with divisional realignment, Swofford said there have been no talks with Notre Dame to bring them into the ACC as a full member. The Fighting Irish currently are a member of all ACC sports except football, and it doesn’t look like that is changing anytime soon.

“From a conference perspective, and I think Notre Dame would say the same thing, and they have said the same thing to me, this has met every expectation that we had as a conference,” Swofford said. “I think it’s met every expectation that Notre Dame has had. I think it’s been positive for Notre Dame. I think it’s been positive for the ACC. That’s what we thought it would be.

“There wasn’t an expectation that at some point in time Notre Dame would ask for full membership in football. That is not a point of discussion at this given point in time. Obviously, if Notre Dame reached the point where they wanted to have that discussion, we would readily sit down and speak with them about that.”

ACC Network ACC Kickoff Notre Dame
For now, Notre Dame isn’t in talks to become a full member of the ACC. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

Moving on From Louisville, North Carolina Scandals

Not all questions were easy for Swofford, as he was asked about the recent scandals concerning Louisville and North Carolina. Swofford said that in order to move on from the incidents and insure they don’t happen again, the conference needs to stress “academics, athletics and integrity.”

“The other thing we do is once these things come to some type of culmination, the school that has had the problem comes before the other 14 schools and, in essence, gives a session on what happened and what they’re doing to correct it, and that’s really based on learning something from it and other schools learning how to avoid it. Most of the time, without getting into particular sessions, it’s not an entire institution. It gets perceived, I guess, as an entire institution, when most of the time it’s a few people that made some bad decisions.”

Swofford said that as much as he’d like to resolve the cases as quickly as possible, there isn’t much he can do as ACC Commisioner.

“I like to get them over with as quickly as possible, but in my role, we really don’t have much impact on that,” Swofford said. “But I always feel like the better approach is to find out what happened, address it, correct it, and as quickly as you can through the process, put it behind you and move on. Sometimes that’s hard to do in today’s processes, but the best day for any league is when you don’t have any of that. So hopefully those will be put to rest and no others coming forward in the near future.”

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19 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. “Thank you all for coming to the 2017 ACC annual media days, I’d like to offer a brief overview of this years activities and then entertain your questions…FREE BEER! Thank you.”

    My bid is in for new conf commish.

    1. HIRED and probably overqualified given the current ASS CLOWN…….

      Little Johnny missed his calling. He should be up in DC in the swamp with the other do-nothing blowhards!! What a waste of reading skills THAT was!!

      Note: Ricky, that wasn’t a shot at you. Far from it..THAT was an honest interpretation of your subject matter. If Will sent you to cover that jackass, it must be some “Rookie Hazing” thing. Well, you passed..hopefully you won’t have to do THAT again

      1. Little Johnny won’t say anything bad about his school, so therefore he can’t say much about Pitinos party.

  2. Would love to know what UNC thinks are their lessons learned from the fake classes scandal. “Have 1 more regular students than athletes in the class, don’t get caught, and if you do, tell the NCAA that academics aren’t really their concern”.

  3. He must get paid to keep the status quo. The ACC is not the best conference for network, media, content, but we aren’t the big 12, maybe in 2 years we will some how continue to contend and occasionally beat the SEC, BIG10, PAC10. We(ACC) seem to be doing it now, despite these conference hiccups. ACC is not setting the trend but slowly following.

  4. Kinda disappointing to hear that the ACC isn’t at least exploring the possibility of realigning the divisions. Then again, Swofford would probably never tell the public that the ACC is exploring division realignment until the ACC makes some grand announcement to reveal the new divisions. I can understand keeping the public in the dark about the ACCN because it make good business sense. Not sure it makes good business sense for the ACC not to talk about some preliminary stuff with the media during media days. If the ACC isn’t willing to share too much information or have too many announcements to make, then what is the incentive for reporters to show up to ACC Media Days?

    1. The acc would be a lot better off without ESPN. Acc digital, and raycom could pull it off a lot easier with all the options and replays available today. As the saying goes, ESPN is in bed and in love with sec. Wake up swofford.

  5. So, if I scanned this correctly, he basically said nothing.

    It’s good to know that he’s alive, I guess.

    1. Newt, this could have read “Swofford: 1) we don’t know, 2) I can’t, and 3) Let’s look the other way.”

      whatever time he has left is too long.

      1. I can’t see one possible scenario where VT could ever get away with what unc did. If they drag it out a few more years it will go away.

    2. Yep, Swofford said a lot of nothing. He should be in politics.

      Swofford says there’s not much he can do about the scandals at UNC and Louisville, but he likely had some involvement in the UNC cheating scandal when he was the AD there.

      It’s time for a new ACC commissioner.

          1. Oliver Luck:

            within 5 years of his ascension to throne, it would be:
            “wellcum to thuh ACC, west verrginya!”

            if the ‘eers side with the ACC’s other newest northerly come-here’s
            then the conference politics become
            the traditional tobacco roadies vs. the x-big east (sans VT)

            I think Whit (if he’s still leading us) will have enough wisdom and knowledge
            to not take sides in that contest. VT would have more power
            than the universities in either group by being an “independent, swing vote”
            to use to our advantage. and if the in-fighting gets too bad and the ACC becomes even more stagnant than under Swofford’s reign, free-shoes-u and klempsun will be longing for SEC bids.

          2. I don’t think Luck would show favoritism to any school he worked at or attended (i.e. University of Texas Law School). Besides, the commissioner doesn’t have the power to overrule the college presidents when it comes to admitting new members into the conference. FWIW Luck has been working for the NCAA since December 17, 2014 and as of today I haven’t seen anything where people have accused him of showing favoritism in this new position.

            If you look at his post-NFL playing days, then you will see he has worked as an executive within the NFL and GM for the Houston Dynamo, so his experience could make him a good commissioner. Even if the ACC ends up hiring someone else, I would think his name will probably appear on the list of candidates for the job. Something else to watch out for is whether the ACC wants its next commissioner to have a connect with a current member or outside blood. There may be enough schools who object to having a commissioner with ties to current school even if they believe that commissioner could still remain objective.

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