CLEMSON — The Clemson Board of Trustees met for two hours behind closed doors Friday morning to hear a presentation from Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford.
Clemson board chairman David Wilkins said the topics covered Clemson’s contract with the ACC as well as "the Orange Bowl deal." Earlier this month, the ACC signed a 12-year contract to place its champion annually in the Orange Bowl unless that team gets chosen for college football’s new four-team national championship playoff.
"I call it a frank discussion among friends," Wilkins said, adding: "This is the first time he’s come to speak to a full board."
The 2012 Orange Bowl pitted the ACC champion Tigers against the Big East’s top team, the West Virginia Mountaineers. After beating Clemson 70-33, a record for points scored in a game, West Virginia left the Big East for the Big 12.
Wilkins announced shortly after the meeting convened at IPTAY headquarters, the university’s athletics fund-raising arm, that anyone from the press leave the room. He cited "personnel, contractual, legal matters."
Swofford said later that he’s more accustomed to visiting with athletic boards and councils. He said he spent time with Clemson President Jim Barker and the trustees the previous evening at the president’s home.
"They love Clemson," he said. "It was a free exchange of ideas."
Swofford has been commissioner of the ACC for 15 years.
A 15-year, $3.6 billion broadcast contract that he renegotiated in May will bring member schools — on average — $17 million a year over the life of the deal.
Clemson collected about $6 million in broadcast revenue two years ago and millions more this past year, said Katie Hill, the director of finance for Clemson athletics. Broadcast money helped buoy the university’s auxiliary revenue in a 2012-2013 budget that totals $859 million.
"It was a good year," Hill said.
Barker said the TV contract constitutes about 20 percent of the university athletics budget.
Barker, the current chairman of the NCAA rules committee, said he invited Swofford to speak to his board to dispel rumors and inform everyone on the university’s history with the ACC. Clemson was a charter member of the conference when it started 59 years ago.
"It was all positive and, typical of board meetings, there was a lot of give and take," Barker said afterwards."I invited him, and he was eager to come."
Barker said trustees asked about the future of the conference, its future alignment, how conference revenue is shared and changes to the Bowl Championship Series.
The conference is soon going to expanding, with Pitt and Syracuse joining ACC play in the fall of 2013.
"He did nothing but reinforce our role in the ACC," Barker said, adding that Clemson’s commitment to the conference has already been documented.
All 13 board members, including the newest addition, David Dukes, were at the meeting, as were key members of the university’s athletics leadership and the Clemson’s administrative council, which consists of Barker and the vice presidents of finance, research, academic affairs, student affairs and public service.
Clemson trustees began their summer quarterly business meeting on Thursday morning, during which they approved the university’s spending plan. They are continuing meetings through Sunday for their annual retreat.