ACC Commissioner visits campus in Conversations with Champions series

By on February 27, 2015

By Alan Branch–

In the university’s first year in the Atlantic Coast Conference, U of L welcomed ACC Commissioner John Swofford to speak at the Brown and Williamson Club last Tuesday.

In front of a crowd of nearly 300 people, Swofford discussed his 18 years as commissioner of the ACC, as well as U of L’s new position in the conference.

The event was hosted by Kentucky Journalist Hall of Fame member Billy Reed, who is also the founder of Conversation with Champions, CWC. Reed’s main purpose behind CWC is to shine a light on the positive side of the sports world in efforts to inspire individuals to pursue not only success in athletics but also academic excellence and integrity.

Since he was named commissioner in 1997, Swofford has contributed to transforming the ACC from nine to 15 teams and the college football playoff system.

Swofford started as a ticket manager right out of graduate school at the University of Virginia, and was named Athletic Director of the University of North Carolina at the age of 31 before becoming the ACC Commissioner. He is the longest-tenured ACC Commissioner in conference history.

He touched on several different topics concerning the NCAA and the ACC during his hour long discussion with Reed.

“In a perfect world, I thought eight was the right number from a pure football standpoint,” Swofford said on the college football playoff bracket. “I do not think we’re anywhere close to going to eight, I think we’ll be at four for 12 years under contractional agreement. And I think four is the right place for it to be right now.”

He went on saying limitations range from not wanting the games to interfere with exams to making the football season a two semester sport. Reed also asked Swofford on his take on fans storming the courts after games and what the conference has done in result of these occurrences:

“We talked greatly to arena management people, stadium management people, and a lot of the feedback we got is that there is a certain line of thinking that the more you try to stop that physically, the more problems you create, the more dangerous you make the situation.”

This led to a protocol that requires security guards to get the officials and the visiting team off the court, which has worked well for the majority.

Reed also didn’t hesitate to ask the commissioner on the possibility of having the ACC basketball tournament here at Louisville. “I think it would be really difficult,” Swofford responded. “I think it would be awfully tough to get our tourney on anybody’s home court. But I will tell you this arena here is unbelievable. I was blown away the first time I saw it.”

Wishful thinking for any Cards fan, but Swofford gave much praise to U of L and its athletics, stating, “Athletically, what has occurred here over the last 15 years, 18 years, is I think unmatched in major college athletics.”

Photo courtesy / University of Louisville

Editor’s note: Billy Reed is member of The Louisville Cardinal’s board of directors. 

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