CLEMSON — Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford met with Clemson President James Barker and the Clemson trustees Friday, fielding a number of questions from Clemson officials about the history, future and health of the ACC.
The ACC has dealt with rumors of realignment threats the past two years and its television deal has also been a source of angst as it figures to be the lowest television deal in terms of average annual value among all power conferences once the Southeastern Conference’s deal in renegotiated. The ACC is also perceived to have a basketball and North Carolina bias by many ACC fans.
“It was a very positive and professional exchange,” Barker said. “We let our board ask any questions they wanted to ask. It was a shattering of myths and legends about the ACC and commissioner Swofford.
“I think it did nothing but reinforce our role in the ACC.”
Barker said he invited Swofford to campus and to meet with the board during its annual retreat.
“I think it was a great opportunity for him,” Barker said. “It’s the first time he’s ever spoken to a full board of trustees. It was the same kind of nature of all our meetings, an exchange of ideas and questions people want to ask.”
The Clemson board has called several meetings in the past two years to discuss the landscape of college football because of sweeping changes in conference membership throughout the country, in addition to record TV deals.
“There were questions about history, questions about the future, about conference alignment, all those types of questions you would expect from a group that is very interested in athletics to be able to ask when they have the conference commissioner in the room,” Barker said. “How does the revenue gets shared? What about the bowls? The BCS changes? All the things you would expect.”
Barker said the ACC’s new deal with the Orange Bowl was discussed as was its new television deal with ESPN, a deal some have speculated might compel teams to look at other conferences. Barker downplayed the impact of the new television deal.
“It was part of the discussion but we didn’t dwell on that,” Barker said. “One of the messages the commissioner had was that as important as (the television contract) is, it is only a small part of what a university’s overall athletic budget is. It is about 20 percent of the (Clemson) athletic budget. I think that put it in perspective, too.”
TigerIllustrated.com reported earlier this month that Barker and other ACC presidents met with Notre Dame officials. Barker declined to comment on the report. Notre Dame confirmed it had talked to ACC officials about the Orange Bowl.
“That’s an ACC matter,” Barker said. “I think John Swofford speaks for the ACC.”