Good morning, everyone. Thanks for being here today. Before we begin today’s forum, as usual, I’ve got a couple topics that might help you for your coverage. First take a minute to silence your cell phones, any other electronic devices that may interrupt today’s press conference.
This forum is going to be streamed live on ACC Network Extra, the ACC digital network on the ACC.com, and on Facebook Live. In addition, a full transcript will be provided by ASAP Sports, which is also available on the ACC.com and via the ACC football kickoff app, which I hope all of you have downloaded and are finding that useful.
It’s now my pleasure to introduce the commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference, John Swofford.
JOHN SWOFFORD: It’s that time of year again. Welcome to the 2018 ACC football kickoff. It’s great to be with you, as it always is at this time of year. I want to begin today by really thanking each of you for being here, being in attendance, and thank you for your countless efforts throughout the year in covering our players, coaches, schools, and our conference.
As I was preparing for today, I couldn’t help but think back to the early years of being a part of this. And I think the first one of these I went to, we had eight members in the league. The media attendance was about 100. Now we have about 500 of you that attend this event. We have 14 schools. We have two divisions. We have a Conference Championship game and a national playoff.
At that point in time, most of your stories were next-day events. Now they’re immediate. So there’s been an incredible amount of change during the time that I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of this great league and to attend these kinds of events with you.
They’re changing times, and one of the things that I’m most proud of in this conference is that our conference and our schools have adjusted well to that changing landscape, which is why I think we are where we are as a conference today.
It’s an exciting time for the ACC with a lot to celebrate and a lot to appreciate. Our schools continue to perform at the highest level both academically and athletically, which is a tribute to the quality leadership at each of our institutions. Throughout our history, our schools have collectively distinguished themselves in many positive ways.
I’ve been fortunate to be a part of this league for over four decades, and throughout my tenure, I’ve realized, quite frankly, how important it is to celebrate success and not take any moments for granted, because I think we all know and understand how difficult it is to be the best, how difficult it is to win championships, and that life can throw a lot of wrenches into programs and their attempts to be the best on the field or on the court.
The competitive aspect of college athletics helps drive the desire to set the bar higher. Our players, coaches and programs embody a high standard of excellence. And when you look at what’s been accomplished in recent years in this league, I think it would be short-sighted not to acknowledge and celebrate the following: The ACC is the only conference to win National Championships in football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball and baseball over the last four years. I think any conference anywhere, including this one, would take that over every four-year period. The conference has won four combined football and men’s basketball titles over the last five years. That’s twice as many as any other league.
During this past academic year, the ACC led all conferences with ten bowl teams, nine NCAA men’s basketball tournament teams, and eight NCAA women’s basketball tournament teams, including two Final Four participants and the national champion in the most dynamic women’s Final Four in its history.
Over the past two years, ACC teams have made 21 bowl appearances, which leads the nation, and our champion has been in the College Football Playoff every year of its existence.
So we’re proud of these successes as well as so many more that I haven’t mentioned, and I truly believe the strength of our schools, our student-athletes, our coaches and our fans is at an unprecedented point in our league’s history.
Two years ago at this event, we announced a new multimedia agreement with ESPN that included the launch of the ACC Network. Today we are approaching the one-year countdown to the linear launch of that network. A lot of work has been done in preparation for next August by our partners at ESPN, by those in our offices in Greensboro, and at our schools.
With that said, as we look ahead, there are several important initiatives on our collective to-do lists as we lead up to next August. These items over the next year will intensify each month, as will the level of excitement and anticipation of bringing this project to fruition.
We are appreciative of the support, the dedication and the commitment by our partners at ESPN. I’ve said many times, you cannot have a better partner in this realm than ESPN. The pledge made by John Skipper and his team has been unwavering from the day we signed the deal, and we’re extremely pleased by the seamless transition under the new leadership of president Jimmy Pitaro.
I’ve had the chance to spend time with Jimmy, as I had the chance to spend a great deal of time with John, and it was immediately clear during our first conversation that the ACC Network remains a top business priority for ESPN, and I can tell you and assure you that the relationship between our two entities is stronger than ever.
There are a lot of folks behind the scenes working hard to get the network up and running, and while time won’t allow me to recognize everyone, I do want to acknowledge a number of leaders that are already making critical contributions to the ultimate launch of the channel. Rosalyn Durant continues to oversee all of ESPN’s college networks, and Stacie McCollum provides oversight specifically for the ACC Network. They are both located here in Charlotte.
Justin Connolly and his affiliate sales distribution team are outstanding and critical to the success of this venture. Chris Brush and his colleagues in the affiliate and consumer marketing divisions; ESPN’s production brain trust of Lee Fitting and Amy Rosenfeld, and we’re tremendously pleased with both of these individuals and tremendously pleased to have a veteran of Amy’s stature as the ACC Network’s senior coordinating producer. And Meg Aronowitz and Rex Aarons from ESPN’s field production team who have spent the last two years working with our schools on their production buildouts.
I really want to acknowledge the work done by our schools, their production directors, the decisions that have been made on our campuses for the buildouts that will be necessary for us to have the channel. We’re in great shape with that. And the production directors and others have been tremendously dedicated on our campuses. They’ve done an excellent job in preparing for the ACC linear productions, while simultaneously producing over 1,000 games last year for ACC Network Extra, well beyond the 600 which we initially anticipated.
Just yesterday here in Charlotte, we completed a two-day ACC/ESPN production summit that brought together our school production directors and ESPN’s production leadership to begin the planning process for 2019. As you can imagine, with over 1,400 events on the schedule between the Network and Network Extra, there’s a lot of planning and a lot of coordinating required over the next year.
There are a few big items that we know are of major interest and, rest assured, we are tracking on those. This fall we will finalize the live event programming schedule for the fall, winter and spring sports. Throughout the academic year, we’ll begin the process of considering our non-live program needs and reviewing different show ideas that will be on the ACC Network. And by next spring, we will have identified the talent for the programs that we create, as well as our lead game announcers for all sports.
Those are the answers I have surrounding the topics of programming and talent. It’s not that I don’t want to share more with you, but the reality is I’ve provided all the answers we have at this current time. But, rest assured, by next year’s football kickoff, there will be no shortage of information surrounding the ACC Network shows and talent, and we will at that time be within weeks of its launch.
Bottom line, whether it’s production, distribution, scheduling or anything else related to the network, I am pleased to be able to tell you that we are right on schedule.
There’s one additional and significant milestone I can share with you today, which is the unveiling of the final ACC Network brand mark. The ACC Network brand that was displayed when we announced the agreement was created as a placeholder, if you will, until we were ready to unveil the actual brand mark today. Chris McClure, ESPN’s senior creative director, in conjunction with several of his colleagues on ESPN’s creative works team, designed this mark after months of concept testing. There’s an art to creating a brand mark that will be associated with so many multimedia platforms. This includes not only linear and digital broadcasts, but also apps for phones, tablets, ESPN’s bottom line, digital banners, alerts, and on and on.
Our partners at ESPN have tremendous vision. We’ve known that for a long time. And the ACC Network brand mark is no exception. Thanks again to ESPN, Chris and his team for what we think was an excellent job.
All in all, significant strides have been made on all network fronts, and we are extremely pleased with the progress that continues to be made and look forward to the August launch with great anticipation.
At the same time we are approaching the ACC Network launch, as there always is, there’s great excitement surrounding the upcoming academic year. There have been a number of changes related to football within the NCAA, and I’m pleased that a number of these changes have come about as a result of the leadership at our schools and our conference.
This past December was the first early signing day, something we’ve championed from the ACC for a number of years, and after visiting with our coaches this spring and as recently as this morning, it’s been a positive addition to the recruiting calendar. There’s also been significant discussions surrounding the redshirt and transfer rules. We’ll need to evaluate both of these over the next year and beyond, but I don’t think there’s any doubt that the benefit for our players far outweigh any negatives that might come with it.
As it relates to the transfer process, we believe the changes are in the best interest of players and specifically their ability to control who they talk with during the process and their ability to ultimately transfer where they want and need to go. It also eliminates any restriction on them from receiving athletic aid at a new school.
The football redshirt rule, which allows a player to participate in up to four games without losing a year of eligibility is another positive for our players and programs. The opportunity to have limited game experience without penalty, especially when you consider the length of the season and possible attrition during the season, should be an overall benefit of the game, the players and the coaches.
As a former player who sat out a year with an illness and spent that year not playing the game, that’s a tough thing to do. And for a player to have the opportunity to play in three or four games gives the coaches the opportunity to certainly evaluate them better, prepare them better for when they’re playing on a more regular basis, and it gives players the opportunity to hang in there, so to speak, as they get through what would have been a redshirt year of not playing at all. So I think it’s a tremendous change for the players.
The early signing period as well as the new redshirt rule were both initiated by the ACC. We’re fortunate to have Blake James, Miami’s athletics director, as chair of the Division I Council. His leadership and ability to effectively communicate on behalf of the various constituents continues to be appreciated. And currently I think it’s worth noting that the ACC has more individuals on more committees in the NCAA than any other conference, so we’re extraordinarily represented across the board and in some very key leadership positions.
The health and safety initiatives surrounding our student-athletes remains a significant focus for our schools, our conference, and of course nationally. This is a rule change year in football, and later today, Dennis Hennigan, who is doing such an outstanding job with our officiating in the ACC, will outline a number of modifications that will be implemented this season. I hope you will attend that session.
This will include the much-talked-about kickoff rule, which after spending time with our coaches, I know there’s a desire to see even more future changes to help protect players, which is going to be increasingly important for the importance of the game and the continuation of the game of football as we know it as we move forward.
Speaking of coaches, as you know, we welcomed Florida State’s Willie Taggart to the league this past December. He has already been a great addition around our table and is joining a group of coaches that has separated itself with the national landscape. We have seven of the nation’s top 25 active coaches in career victories. That’s more coaches in that top 25 than any other conference.
It’s a good time to talk with coaches. They’re all here. They’re all undefeated. And they’re all here with the ultimate goal of returning to Charlotte on the first weekend in December for the 14th annual Dr. Pepper ACC Football Championship Game. It’s nice to say 14th because we’ve come a long way with this game, and we’ve found a home, obviously.
This past April we announced an agreement with the Charlotte Sports Foundation and the Carolina Panthers to keep one of our marquee events here in Charlotte through 2030. It’s also good to see that David Tepper, the new owner of the Panthers, is a Pitt graduate, and therefore we have declared him an ACC guy.
Speaking of marquee events, I’d be remiss in not mentioning while we’re here in Charlotte what a significant role this city will play beyond our annual kickoff and football championship game. We’ll be back here in October for both our men’s and women’s basketball Media Days, and in March we’ll celebrate the 66th annual New York Life ACC men’s basketball tournament at the Spectrum Center just a few blocks from here.
The first weekend of the football season is six weeks away. There’s no shortage of quality games available to our fans throughout the year. One of the most pleasing things to me as I compare now to a number of past years when we were a smaller league is the number of quality football games we now have in this league. And when you look at the last several years, the teams that we’ve had in the National Championship playoffs, the National Championship game, most of their toughest games, and in some cases their only loss, have been within the conference. And I think that says something about where we are with ACC football.
I think it also says something when you look at the roster of games each and every weekend and who’s playing whom, and while our schools continue to schedule extraordinarily well against non-conference competition and in a very appealing fashion. I think more so than any other conference, quite frankly. When you look at the conference games that are quality games and that are games that you want to see, it’s remarkable, and a far cry from where we were at one point in this league with our football programs.
Similar to recent years, our fans can experience every game that we play on one of our broadcast platforms, including ESPN, Raycom Sports, or the Fox Regional Network. Each of these entities continues to be an important partner, and we appreciate their coverage.
And in speaking of Raycom Sports, this will be its 35th and last year of broadcasting ACC football on syndication. Our partnership began in 1984, and I was actually chairman of the NCAA Football Television Committee at the time that the courts struck down the NCAA television plan. That then gave the ACC and other conferences the opportunity to develop, at the time, syndicated coverage of conference football games as this league had had for years and years and years with its basketball.
So you go back to that period in time, and Rick Ray and Ken Haines and Jim Babb and Jefferson-Pilot involved with it, and that became something very important to the evolution and development of ACC football because we were at a point under the NCAA television plan where we didn’t feel like we were getting our share of games at that time. A number of great rivalry games had been created across the country that were shown every year. We’d get a couple of regional games per year, might get a national game or two per year, and that was pretty much it. And the syndication with Raycom, with football, really elevated over a period of time what happened to ACC football. A number of other things elevated it, as well, but it was a terrific opportunity for this league.
Our partnership with Raycom has lasted over three decades. During that time, it only grew. It flourished. In today’s world, those kinds of long-term relationships just don’t happen very often. I don’t know that anybody has ever had a syndicated relationship that has lasted as long as the ACC’s relationship with Raycom.
So we’re going to celebrate Raycom a little more than normal this year, during football season and during basketball season, because it deserves it. And our relationship, our business relationship with Raycom will continue, but it’ll be in a different vein, and Raycom will be doing some things with ESPN, as well. So that’s really good to hear. But the syndication aspect of it, this is its last year, and we think it deserves some celebration.
Let me stop there, see what questions that you may have. There’s nothing going on in college athletics, so this will probably be pretty quick, right?
Q. Starting in the beginning of the new millennium, the ACC had some rather lackluster bowl seasons, especially in the Orange Bowl. But as you mentioned, since the CFP was announced, the ACC has been in the national Conference Championship every year. How do you explain that?
JOHN SWOFFORD: Well, I think that — I don’t think it’s explainable in one or two aspects of it. I think it’s multiple, and I think it really started in the early 2000s when we began talking about expansion and the need for expansion, should we, should we not; if so, why.
And we felt like looking ahead, sometimes you have to try and be visionary, you know, as a business, as a conference, as an individual, and most of us felt very strongly that with the way things were progressing, where college athletics was going, how the football side of things was beginning to dominate, if you will, the business aspects of it and the revenue generation aspects of it because of its growing popularity, we felt like we had to do two things as a league. One was to grow and enhance our footprint and our marketplaces and our television sets, and the other was that we had to get more competitive top to bottom in football. Those were the two items that we beat to death, quite honestly, meeting after meeting after meeting, and we got there.
But the success on the field doesn’t happen, and certainly I think we enhanced ourselves football-wise by the schools that we have brought into the league since the decision first was made in 2003, but then ’04 and ’05 is when Miami and Virginia Tech came in, and then Boston College right on top of it, which gave us the opportunity to have a conference championship game, which we had to have 12 schools in order to do that.
Then later the opportunity to bring Pitt and Syracuse into the league, who have not had as much recent success in football but have tremendous tradition and history in that sport, which can help tremendously in rebuilding it and putting it back together and having that same success going forward possibly.
It also affected our ability to do some things television-wise and marketing-wise that we would never have been able to do as a nine-member conference, for instance.
Then Notre Dame and the arrangement with Notre Dame, which I think has been a tremendous plus for the league as well as for Notre Dame. Then the loss of one school and the immediate decision to bring in Louisville, to bring us to where we are today from a membership and market standpoint. Plus all of those schools have excellent football potential. And when you couple it with the nine schools that we already had, it just has given us so much more depth, and instead of one or two really good teams, we have a lot more than that right now. And I think that will continue.
But the biggest thing is the institutions responding to the challenge to improve football, to bring our football nationally up to a level similar to basketball. I think we’re in the best shape we’ve ever been as a league at this point in time in a real balance there with football and basketball, because basketball is so important to the history of our league and what we became, how we were perceived. And our football, while we had some, over time, great players and great teams along the way that won some National Championships and some Heisman trophies and those kinds of things, we weren’t doing it with nearly the frequency or with multiple teams the way we had been able to do things in basketball.
And as I said, the business model was changing. About the early 2000s was when the football revenue from television equaled basketball television revenue in this conference and now a number of conferences before then, that had already taken place.
But the biggest thing is the schools responding, investing in the sport, investing in facilities, investing in hiring quality coaches and investing in recruiting.
Q. Football post-season of course is ratings driven, rankings driven. Do you feel like the ACC gets a fair shake under the CFP rankings system as opposed to under the BCS? Is that part of the equation?
JOHN SWOFFORD: I think so. You know, I’ve said this before: I think the CFP has been the greatest startup I’ve ever seen in college sports, I think. It doesn’t mean it’s perfect, but one of the reasons I can say that is we’ve been in it the first four years, so I get that. But at the same time, I do think it’s been to our benefit, and I think some of that is the eyeball test.
I think we finally have put together a period of time where our league has improved consistently in football. It’s not a flash-in-the-pan kind of situation, and there will be a year, I’m sure, where our champion or another team is not in the playoff. I mean, it’s already happened to some really good conferences. That’s part of the deal at this point in time.
But we’d like to put that off as long as we possibly can. But I think the CFP has been really good for the ACC and really good for college football.
Q. Some of your cohorts have said they expect the NCAA to adopt some, if not all, or most if not all of the Rice Commission’s recommendations for basketball. What’s your sense on that, and do you agree with everything in that report as it’s being implemented?
JOHN SWOFFORD: I do think the vast majority of it, if not all of it, will be adopted. And I think it needs to be adopted. That doesn’t mean that I agree with every piece of it, but I think what we need to do right now with college basketball is to show a commitment to adopting those concepts. And they’ll be more than concepts when they’re adopted in August.
But I think we’ll need to understand that in taking those concepts in a very short period of time and turning them into legislative protocol, doing it that quickly, I think we can expect that a year from now or two years from now, it may need tweaking some. But I think the bones of it are outstanding, and I think we’re at a point in college basketball where we need to take those steps.
I don’t think it’ll be perfect in August, so I think we’re going to need a mechanism to adjust to some degree going forward, but I think it’s important to take that first step, and I think it needs to be a giant first step.
Q. By sheer coincidence, the same year you were born, the NCAA started keeping track of college football attendance, so 70 years ago. And for the first time, it’s declined four years in a row. Yet the SEC lost an average of 2,500 fans per game last year, their worst decline in 25 years. Even in an era where I imagine TV money makes up for a lot of problems, how are you addressing as a league, how are your schools addressing a significant red flag when it comes to declining attendance in major college football?
JOHN SWOFFORD: Mainly talking about best practices among ourselves. That’s one of the great things about a conference is schools can spend time together and share ideas and what works and what doesn’t work, because we’re in a period now where people’s ability to watch a game is phenomenal, you know, whether it’s your phone or your living room, and it’s a quality experience, particularly in your living room. Some more than others, but you can still do other things, keep up with the game, see the highlights, and all of that is good. So maybe sometimes to gain something, you give up a little something.
But I think the biggest approach is — and every school is a little different. School A may have a parking problem, school B not at all, but I think what our schools are finding is sharing that kind of information about the in-stadium experience and also modernizing stadiums and bringing them up to snuff, so to speak, so that the in-game experience is as good as it can be, and that can start on the field with the product, and it can also start on the field with keeping the game going. We’re continually working at reducing the length of games. I really harp on this all the time with our officials particularly, so I’m pleased to tell you that the ACC in terms of conference games, we had the shortest length of conference games of any of our peer conferences last year and I think the year before, as well, if I’m not mistaken. And that’s a good thing.
We keep looking at rules changes that also may shorten the game because Major League Baseball is dealing with this right now, with attendance down and people complaining about the length of games and rules changes they’re trying to make without taking away the soul of the game itself.
But I think it’s a trend we have to keep an eye on. You want to be developing young fans. You want to be developing students into fans while they’re there because generally they’re the ones who go on, and as they have some successes in life, give back to our booster clubs and our universities. So it’s an all-encompassing issue that is about the field, it’s about fans’ total experience from parking to concessions to bathrooms to comfort in their seats to reception they can get on their mobiles while they’re in the stadium. You know, all of those things come into play, and I’m sure I’ve missed a few.
But it is a concern that we talk about often in our league meetings.
Q. The Supreme Court decision on sports gambling, where do you think the ACC overall and college football really should go in terms of injury reports?
JOHN SWOFFORD: Well, I just had a lengthy conversation with our Coastal Division coaches this morning about that issue. You may remember, we have had not a rule but a gentlemen’s agreement among our coaches to share publicly injury information. We were the only conference that was doing that, and ironically, we decided not to do it this year, so we won’t be doing it this year.
But my guess is that — I think the ultimate question with us is how do you protect the players and the integrity of the game, and what’s different now that some things are legal from when it was illegal, and what does that change. But the ultimate question is how do we protect our players, because obviously a lot more people — if it’s going to be legal, and we’re in ten states, we have schools in ten states, so it’s going to be challenging because some states will pass it and others won’t, I feel sure.
So we’ll have to see how it plays out, but my guess is we will have a national — I won’t even call it an injury report because I think that we need to include other situations that would be in sync, be consistent across the country. I think that’s critically important, and would include not only injuries but if there’s disciplinary action where a player is suspended for a game or for whatever reason, that would need to be a part of it, as well. And I think that reduces to some degree people you don’t really want coming around players and managers and doctors and anybody associated with the program, coaches, trying to get information in another kind of way, in an underhanded kind of way.
My general feeling, and I sense that our coaches’ general feeling is the same, that that’s probably something that needs to happen on a national basis. I don’t think it’ll happen for this season. I suspect it’ll be for next season, but I’ll be surprised if that’s not in place.
Q. I’m curious to get your opinion, recently we had the former Louisville basketball players sue the NCAA to try to get their vacated NCAA championship reinstated, kind of get their reputations back. Do you feel like they deserve to win that suit? Would you like to see them win that suit, or do you kind of feel the NCAA made the correct call there?
JOHN SWOFFORD: You know, it’s hard for me to weigh in on that. That’s kind of a no-win for me to weigh in on that. I’m not that familiar with it. I thought it was an interesting lawsuit. I’ve never seen that before, so it is certainly creative. And I do understand players that had nothing to do with the problem being negatively impacted by association. I get that. I don’t know if the lawsuit is the solution to that.
But just in terms of NCAA sanctions, the whole idea of so negatively impacting an entire university or an entire team with penalties, and oftentimes it’s after the fact with players that didn’t even have anything to do with it and coaches that didn’t have anything to do with it — I’ve said for years, surely we can find a better way. And there is more concentration on the individuals involved when it can be proven, and that’s where I think it should be.
I’ve never been a real fan of vacating championships, quite honestly, in general, because it’s a little hard to act like, okay, that game never happened, because it did happen, and somebody won and somebody lost. You know, if somebody won dishonorably, I’m all for pursuing that, but I’m not sure that taking down a banner really helps anything a whole lot. I’m sure there are those who would disagree with me on that, but there’s certain aspects of the suit that sort of touch on some things that I felt in the past in terms of finding the individuals who caused the problem and dealing with those individuals as opposed to an entire university and ultimately players and coaches who had nothing to do with the problem to begin with.
Q. I just wanted to know, you talked about the players, but just what impact you think that could have on college football, and specifically what are you concerned about most?
JOHN SWOFFORD: You know, what I’m concerned about most, I think, and I don’t know how much it’s going to change. I may be one of the most naÃ¯ve people in the world about gambling, quite honestly. I can’t even tell you the lingo that goes with it, quite frankly. But I know it can be incredibly problematic for the integrity of our games. I don’t like the optics of gambling in college sports, but at the same time, I mean, it’s obviously going on illegally and has been for years, and there are people who are constantly trying to get information about programs and individual players, et cetera, so they can bet the most effective way they think they can.
I don’t know what legalizing it — I don’t know how much it changes everything, and I’m not sure anybody does. We’ve talked about this at our commissioners’ meetings a couple of weeks ago, and it’s kind of a, well, what if and what if, and is this going to change or not. I think we’re going to have to see how it plays out some.
I mean, there’s even an argument about — you see people talking about let’s get a one percent integrity fee, so to speak, to try and manage this and do what we need to do on our campuses with our athletes. And then you have others say, wait a minute, we’re going to ask to make money out of this, an enterprise in which people are betting on our players, and we’re going to take money because people are betting on our players. Some people have a moral problem with that.
So it’s not going to be simple. I’m not sure — sometimes when you think something is just going to be horrible and an incredible mess, it comes into play, and a year or two later, you find out, well, you know, that’s not as impactful as I thought it would be.
We’ve seen that in recent years in college athletics with some things. The full cost of attendance, there was all kinds of ruckus that because it wasn’t exactly the same at every institution that it was going to impact recruiting tremendously. Well, I ask coaches now, and it’s like, no, that really hasn’t happened. Well, some people thought the world was coming to an end when we went to full cost of attendance.
And this is different, but there are just a lot of questions there to answer and to work through. I don’t think there are a lot of — here or anywhere else, in talking with Mark Emmert and his staff and my peer commissioners. There aren’t a lot of answers there right now. I think we pretty much know what the questions are, but we don’t have the answers yet. As I think I said earlier, we’ve got ten states to deal with just in the ACC.
One thing that would seem to make some sense to me is if Congress put some parameters to bring some consistency state to state, if a state decided to legalize gambling. I’m not saying you take that right away from the states, I’m just saying that if the state of North Carolina decided to — or the state of Florida decided to legalize gambling, it would have certain parameters that it had to work within that were mandated by the Federal Government. Seems to me that might be helpful in at least laying out some consistency state to state. That’s coming from a very naÃ¯ve point of view.
Q. To follow up on the gambling questions, you mentioned the optics of college and gambling was not something you really liked, but you could say the same thing about college and alcohol for a while there, and now the ACC sells beer at tournament sites. So when you start looking down the line for future tournament sites, there could be arenas that you’re talking to that have in-arena gambling. How do you balance that with the need to keep the arms race going to make more money, find new ways to fulfill cost of attendance and everything else? This is the next thing. How do you address that with future tournament sites?
JOHN SWOFFORD: Well, again, very fair points. And spot on, I think. We’ll just have to work our way through it, just like we have the alcohol issue. It took us years to — and having some of our schools allow alcohol sales, for us as a conference to do it at our championships, and we moved into it gradually. Quite frankly, we have fewer incidents related to alcohol at our championships now, when we control the sale of the alcohol, than we did when we didn’t, and supposedly there wasn’t any alcohol.
So gambling could work out the same way. I’m not saying it won’t. I think we just have to plow into this, understand it as best we can, and see if it really is as — if you’re really opposed to it, see if it’s as bad as we really think it is, because I don’t think we know. But it still gets back to — even if it’s okay, we’re still going to want to do whatever we need to do in order to protect the integrity of the game itself.
I don’t know if it’s legal, does it make it a little easier for a player to — or a coach or a trainer or a manager to share information they shouldn’t share? It’s got a lot of tentacles to it. But the answer might be ultimately, you know, this hasn’t made a bit of difference. But I still don’t really like the optics of gambling on college students.
And you have states with lotteries. A number of our states have education lotteries. But it’s from people buying a ticket, it’s not from gambling on how Joe is going to play today.
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