ACC meetings started yesterday and the big topic that the media (and fans) wanted addressed: ACC Network. Still as clear as ever, which is not even a little.
But to the surprise of no one tracking this saga, ACC commissioner John Swofford plans no public enlightenment during this week’s league gathering at Amelia Island, Fla.
Swofford told the ACC Digital Network’s Jeff Fischel that he remains “very focused” on a sustainable television path for the conference. This he did without mentioning over-the-top (OTT) outlets such as Netflix and Hulu, and partner ESPN’s bleeding of traditional cable subscribers and subsequent personnel cuts.
“We think we’re in a really good position for the long-term,” Swofford told Fischel. “We’ve just got to make the right decisions and time things appropriately.”
“I don’t know that there will be public clarity,” Swofford said of this week. “I think we will move further down the trail of where we’re headed, without question. … We’re really just not going to have a whole lot more to say until we reach a point of saying something definitive. It takes some patience with that, but we’ll get to a good place, I’m confident.”
That was some well phrased nothing.
Every AD at the meeting either declined comment, demurred or echoed the empty words. Pitt AD Scott Barnes, for example.
Pitt athletic director Scott Barnes also declined to go into specifics about a potential ACC Network, but he acknowledged there’s a chasm that separates the ACC from some of the other power conferences.
“The more robust you develop your TV, whether that’s a network or other means, the better,” Barnes said. “There’s obviously a financial gap we all want to close. For our student-athletes, for our coaches and for our programs, you want more coverage.
“How do you get there? There are any number of ways to get there, whether it’s a network or expanded coverage otherwise. What you want to do is put yourself in the best position you can be in financially as it relates to coverage and building brand equity.”
The conference’s television committee and its athletic directors met for three hours Monday, one hour longer than they were scheduled to convene.
Expect this topic to continue to percolate over the summer with rumors bubbling periodically.
Another issue that is rife with complications is North Carolina’s Bathroom law.
The presidents and/or faculty at three ACC schools in the state — Duke, Wake Forest and North Carolina — have called for the law’s repeal, and NCAA president Mark Emmert said at the Final Four last month that HB2 “will most certainly be one of the variables as the (site selection) committee makes these decisions. It simply has to be. It’s simply far too important to all of our member schools.”
North Carolina is a frequent destination for NCAA championships, most notably the men’s basketball tournament. Raleigh hosted in 2014 and ’16 and Charlotte in ’15, with Greensboro and Charlotte on the docket for ’17 and ’18, respectively.
The ACC, which removed its 2009-11 baseball tournaments from South Carolina over the Confederate flag issue, staged, or will stage, 11 championships in North Carolina during 2015-16, including football in Charlotte, women’s basketball in Greensboro and baseball in Durham. Each of those events has multi-year contracts with those cities, and the ACC men’s basketball tournament is scheduled for Charlotte in 2019 and Greensboro in ’20.
Protesting HB2, Deutsche Bank and PayPal ditched plans for North Carolina job expansions, while entertainers such as Pearl Jam and Bruce Springsteen canceled shows in the state. NBA commissioner Adam Silver has all but said the 2017 NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte hinges on repeal of HB2.
How seriously ACC schools object to HB2 figures to be evident later this week when the conference announces 2016-17 championship sites.
With better than a quarter of the membership, along with conference headquarters inside the state, this is not going to be a topic that the ACC can avoid much longer.
I don’t fully understand why Pat Narduzzi and the Pitt athletic department fully oppose satellite camps. They’ve been going on for years without much concern until Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh made it obvious that it was about recruiting.
I have trouble believing that it is about protecting the Western Pennsylvania turf. Not when PSU, OSU and WVU are all within a few hours drive. Heck even Michigan is not an absurd distance away. Those are the primary schools that Pitt has to worry locally. It seems that it is more to Pitt’s advantage to be able to participate in other regions of interest: NJ, Maryland, Georgia, Florida, Virginia, etc.
As it stands, Pitt will be taking part in one of the camps in NJ in June.
One of them will be at Paramus Catholic on June 8, school president James Vail confirmed, growing the bond between U-M and the high school that produced top U-M recruits Jabrill Peppers and Rashan Gary, plus Chris Partridge, U-M’s linebackers and special teams coach who formerly coached Paramus.
Vail told U-M that he only had one suggestion — that Rutgers also be included — and Harbaugh didn’t flinch. But nj.com reported Friday night that new Rutgers coach Chris Ash declined the invitation.
Harbaugh already had been scheduled to be the commencement speaker at the high school the following day.
The Paramus camp reportedly will feature instruction from coaches from Boston College, Syracuse, Temple, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Villanova and Monmouth.
At least Pitt isn’t sitting still on principle. If they are allowed, use them.