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 get 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.
Clemson board chairman David Wilkins said the new nine-game ACC football schedule was discussed and it appears it will stick as the new format.
“It was overwhelming vote in favor of it (by ACC programs) but we don’t happen to be one of the schools that think it is good because we have Georgia and teams like that we can have home-and-homes with,” Wilkins said. “We have to change their minds before we change that rule....(Swofford) didn’t advocate for it or against it. We just expressed why we had some concerns with it.”
Still, Wilkins left feeling good about the meeting.
“I think we all came away with a more positive feeling and appreciation of the ACC and what the commissioner has been doing for us,” Wilkins said.