The ACC begins its spring meetings today on Amelia Island in Florida. Here are excerpts from an interview conducted last week with ACC commissioner John Swofford about the meetings:
Q: Does the economy give Charlotte a better chance at gaining ACC championship events because it’s close to the geographic center of the conference?
A: It’s hard to answer. Actually looking at next year, other than the baseball (from Boston to Greensboro), there wasn’t a lot to move.
That was one that was obvious and had a significant savings to it, and the Red Sox were understanding and very cooperative with us. And hopefully that’s a postponement and some day we’ll be able to make that work at Fenway, and in the current economic times we felt that was the right thing to do to come here.
We were fortunate to have an excellent minor league park to come to in the home city of the conference. The football championship, of course, is already coming to Charlotte (in 2010 and 2011).
For the time being, I think there is a focus on championships in more centrally located venues, whether it be on campus or whether it be off campus. And we’ll just have to see as we move forward beyond the current situation.
I think what we want to do is what’s appropriate and what’s right and what positions us well for next year. And see how all of this plays out, and how much time it takes for the economy to strengthen and come back.
Q: Your TV rights package (with ABC/ESPN in football and Raycom Sports in basketball is ending (after 2010-11). When do you begin asking for bids on that? My guess is ...you’d wait and see if the economy turns around a little bit so people would feel like they have more money to spend.
A: I think we just have to constantly gauge this moving forward. Contractually, with our current rights holders, which are Raycom in basketball and ABC-ESPN in football, those negotiations would come about no later than the next spring.
If both parties wanted to alter that and all parties were agreeable to it, it’s alterable. Right now what we are trying to do is really step back and look at potential models and ways of doing our television that would give us our best distribution opportunities and maximize the dollars.
Q: Is everybody still comfortable with eight conference games (in football) or are you going to look at nine conference games again?
A: We took a look at that a year ago with this meeting. And there did not seem to be any real strength to considering nine games, so I read that at this point in time that our schools re comfortable with an eight-game league schedule.
Q: How about 18 (conference) games in basketball?
A: We will have some discussion about it. We’ve already settled for the next two years, we will remain at 16, so any, even discussion about that would relate to the 2011-12 season would be the first that we would even consider that for.
Q: You guys will look at that as a possibility for 2011-12?
A: I think so, and as a possibility. I don’t say that because I think that’s where it’s headed, because I don’t, necessarily. And I would emphasize to fans that any discussion about it is three years off from being reality. Even if it went in that direction.
Q: What are your thoughts on it?
A: I’m very comfortable with where we are now. It’s serving our league well. Our coaches are very comfortable with it. There are pros and cons either way. From a pure business decision there are some reasons to look at 18, but then you could lose some very attractive intersectional games that are of superb value to the television packages.
We’ve got three of the six major conferences that are at 18 and three that are at 16. And right now it is very difficult to tell from an NCAA selection standpoint if it makes a difference or not. There’s not a history there that really tells us much on that at this point in time.