Q&A: ACC commissioner John Swofford discusses details of Louisville expansion

'We felt Louisville was the best fit for the Atlantic Coast Conference at this point in time in every respect'

This July 22, 2012 file photo shows Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford speaking to the media during the conference's college football kickoff news conference in Greensboro, N.C. Notre Dame is leaving the Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference in all sports but football.The ACC said Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, the school will play five football games annually against the league's programs, but will be a full member in all other sports. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)

This July 22, 2012 file photo shows Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford speaking to the media during the conference's college football kickoff news conference in Greensboro, N.C. Notre Dame is leaving the Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference in all sports but football.The ACC said Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, the school will play five football games annually against the league's programs, but will be a full member in all other sports. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)

(Editor's Note: ACC commissioner John Swofford made the following comments on Wednesday at a news conference to discuss the addition of Louisville to the ACC).

Introductory remarks: "The ACC's Council of Presidents has unanimously voted to accept the application of the University of Louisville as the newest member of our conference. Our league was founded on the commitment of balancing academics and athletics, and the addition of Louisville, with its aggressive approach to excel in every respect, will only strengthen our conference.

Louisville is committed in its approach to doing everything at the highest level, and as we've seen, especially in recent years, their success has been well documented and their facilities are truly outstanding.

"Louisville fans are passionate, and that starts with the football and basketball programs which enjoy excellent support. That fan energy also carries across the entire Olympic sports programs. Geographically, this allows the ACC to extend our footprint into a vibrant region that is collegiately driven, while maintaining our strong roots up and down the Atlantic coast.

"I'd like to commend the ACC's Council of Presidents as they have done a terrific job strategically positioning the ACC for the long term future. I appreciate and thank them for their solidarity, their vision and their diligence in getting us to this point today. In addition, I also want to acknowledge the membership committee made up of four presidents, four athletic directors and four faculty representatives.

"If you look at what has been done over the last 15 months, the ACC has only gotten stronger with the additions of Louisville, Notre Dame, Pitt and Syracuse, combined with our recent partnership announcement with the Orange Bowl, and our place in the BCS as one of the five major conferences.

"Again, let me say how pleased we are to have the University of Louisville join the Atlantic Coast Conference, and I know all of our member institutions welcome them, as well."

On possible further expansion to 16 teams: "What I would tell you today is any time you have the deliberations that we have had over the last 10 days or so and we've had previously over the last 15 months or so as Syracuse and Pitt and Notre Dame came into the league and now just an absolutely tremendous addition with Louisville joining us, where we continue to come out is that we're very, very comfortable with 14. That's where we came out again in our deliberations over the past few days."

On any feeling of necessity to move quickly after Maryland's unexpected departure: "Well, obviously we felt based on where we ended up in a relatively short period of time that Louisville was the next right fit for the Atlantic Coast Conference and would enhance our league going forward, and just very glad that a program and a university of this caliber was there and very interested in being a part of the Atlantic Coast Conference. These things need to be a two way street, and certainly I see this and our league sees this as a win win that will be very good for the Atlantic Coast Conference and very good for the University of Louisville."

On the timing of Louisville joining the ACC, and the impact of the swap of Maryland for Louisville on the ACC's media deals: "To answer your second question, no, it does not change anything. In terms of when Louisville will join us, that will be between Louisville and the Big East Conference, as we have said previously in other situations, and we will be ready to receive them as soon as they can join us in an appropriate way in terms of their exit from the Big East."

On whether the addition of Louisville reflects an athletics-first position by the ACC on adding new members: "I think the answer would be that we felt Louisville was the best fit for the Atlantic Coast Conference at this point in time in every respect. I think that when you look at Louisville, you see a University and an athletic program that has all the arrows pointed up, a tremendous uptick there, tremendous energy. So that's my response to that. It's always an overall fit in every respect, and I think that's what we found."

On Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski's comment last week that he considers the ACC 'vulnerable': "Well, I've never really felt that way. You know, I think particularly in working with our presidents over the last 10 days and listening to them and their commitment to the league and to each other, and now adding Louisville and the collective strength of this conference athletically and academically, I couldn't feel any better about the future of this league."

On whether he foresees any other schools leaving the ACC, and whether the conference will consider raising its exit fee even higher: "First question, I do not envision that at all. In fact, just the opposite, again, based on the conversations among our Council of Presidents over the last 10 days. The exit fee, we have not discussed that. It is what it is."

On the possibility of rearranging the ACC's division set-up: "We have not had any conversations of that nature. I think that our anticipation is that Louisville will jump right into the decisions that have already been made in terms of a 14 team league and take Maryland's place in terms of the Atlantic Division in football and simply to take Maryland's place in terms of our basketball scheduling and other Olympic sports scheduling, as well."

With the $50 million exit fee based on 'future losses,' does the quick addition of Louisville adversely affect the ACC's argument in support of its lawsuit against Maryland: "I don't think those two things are connected."

On the possibility of the ACC looking into establish a national television network of its own: "Well, first of all, ESPN, our partner, is a national network, but in the sense of having your own network, we have looked at that very thoroughly from the time that we did our last negotiations with ESPN, and we will continue to look at that and are actually having some conversations now with our television partners about possibilities in that regard.

"But it needs to be the kind of - you don't do that just for the sake of doing it; you do it because it's the right thing for your league financially and from an exposure standpoint moving ahead. So we have five year look ins in our television agreements. We have an ongoing partnership with ESPN and the ACC Network, and we will continue to look at that.

Our distribution is outstanding, first of all, so I'm not sure we can do a whole lot better in terms of distribution than we're doing with our current partners. But as I said, we'll continue to look at that.

"It seems to be the sexy thing in today's world, but it also needs to be the right thing and the thing that's best for our particular conference. We're tremendously well positioned, I think, from that standpoint as we move ahead...The Louisville market is the highest rated college basketball market in the country."

© 2012 OrangeAndWhite.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features