ACC’s Swof­ford be­lieves col­lege hoops’ one-and-done era is done

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Basketball - BY LUKE DECOCK lde­[email protected]­sob­server.com Sports colum­nist Luke DeCock: 919- 829- 8947, lde­[email protected]­sob­server.com, @LukeDeCock

Maybe not right away, but ACC com­mis­sioner John Swof­ford be­lieves one-and-done is done in col­lege bas­ket­ball.

“I think so, and I hope so,” Swof­ford said Thurs­day in a one-on-one in­ter­view as the ACC Kick­off wrapped up in Char­lotte. “The con­ver­sa­tions that I’ve been a part of re­cently, I think it’s on its way out. Not this year, but soon. And I cer­tainly hope so. And I don’t think that solves all the ills by any means, but I think it will help.”

Swof­ford said he ex­pects the NBA and NBPA to sim­ply re­vert to the pre­vi­ous model that al­lowed 18-year-olds to turn pro di­rectly out of high school, with­out any re­quire­ment for play­ers who do at­tend col­lege to stay for two years or other re­stric­tions.

NBA com­mis­sioner Adam Sil­ver said last week that the Rice Com­mis­sion eval­u­at­ing col­lege bas­ket­ball on the NCAA’s be­half in the wake of the FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion has made it clear to him it doesn’t want one-and­done play­ers com­ing into the NCAA, and Sil­ver said was ready to take that to the union for dis­cus­sion.

“My per­sonal view is that we’re ready to make that change,” Sil­ver said.

Swof­ford also ad­dressed a num­ber of top­ics of in­ter­est within the ACC, from fu­ture bas­ket­ball tournament sites to the pos­si­bil­ity of open­ing bas­ket­ball sea­son with con­fer­ence games as the ACC Net­work launches to the fu­ture of ACC e-sports video-game com­pe­ti­tions.

On fu­ture bas­ket­ball tournament sites be­yond Greens­boro in 2020: “I think we’re very close to do­ing that. I would think that would be com­ing. I thought we would have it in May. What we’re try­ing to do, we’re prob­a­bly look­ing at two years af­ter Greens­boro, but we also want to have un­der con­sid­er­a­tion what’s be­yond those two years, or have some sense of it, be­cause we don’t want to do some­thing in those two years that pre­vents us from hav­ing an even bet­ter ro­ta­tion the next three years. I ex­pect we’ll make a two-year an­nounce­ment, and I would ex­pect that an­nounce­ment to be early fall.”

On the sta­tus of the ACC Net­work, which launches next Au­gust: “With the chan­nel, ev­ery­thing’s right where it should be. We’re a year away and there will be a lot of ac­tiv­ity dur­ing this year, much more so – there’s been a lot of ac­tiv­ity, there will be even more dur­ing the year lead­ing in.”

On launch­ing the net­work by po­ten­tially open­ing the 2019 foot­ball and 2019-20 bas­ket­ball sea­sons with a slate of con­fer­ence games: “There will be some prom­i­nent games on the ACC Net­work. Be­cause it’s im­por­tant there are some prom­i­nent games on the ACC Net­work. With 20 (bas­ket­ball) games we’re go­ing to be play­ing con­fer­ence games in De­cem­ber any­way. One thought we have talked about is the pos­si­bil­ity of start­ing the sea­son with con­fer­ence games. Every­body. Es­pe­cially in the ini­tial or early years of the chan­nel, and it ties into a con­ver­sa­tion we were hav­ing pre­vi­ously that didn’t have any­thing to do with the chan­nel. It had to do with how do we find a way to tip off the bas­ket­ball sea­son bet­ter than we’re able to do, and more like the foot­ball sea­son kicks off on one week­end – it’s a long week­end, but it kicks off on one week­end. And is there a way to help bas­ket­ball do that? Be­cause it de­serves it. This would be a way to achieve two goals.”

On e-sports op­por­tu­ni­ties for the ACC: “Do we want to re­ally dip our toe into that? The ques­tion there as much as any­thing is, does that re­ally fit in­ter­col­le­giate ath­let­ics? I think the an­swer is prob­a­bly no, but be­ing in­volved in spon­sor­ing some e-sports events that are tied to our cham­pi­onships, for in­stance, could turn into rev­enues for our schools.”

On ne­go­ti­at­ing a new set of bowl tie-ins be­yond 2019: “We’re in re­ally good shape now. I don’t know whether the next round will look a whole lot dif­fer­ent, but I do think we’re in the strong­est po­si­tion that we’ve been in. The in­ter­est­ing thing is that, par­tic­u­larly the lower-end bowls, there’s a strug­gle there with some of the bowl at­ten­dance. It’s a dif­fer­ent world right now. And one we ex­pected in the sense of the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off and the top-heav­i­ness in terms of in­ter­est in the post­sea­son with first of all the play­off it­self and then the next three games, the play­off six if you will. We ex­pected that to have a trick­le­down ef­fect and I think it’s fair to say that it has. There’s some im­pact there, that’s more than made up for fi­nan­cially at the top end of the play­off and the New Year’s Six. It’s not a net neg­a­tive at all. It’s a net pos­i­tive by a long shot. But in terms of the fu­ture health of the lower-end of the bowl sys­tem, I hope it will con­tinue to be good. That’s in essence a mar­ket­place is­sue. I think it will be. But there has been an im­pact.”

On other ways to close the rev­enue gap with the SEC and Big Ten be­yond the net­work: “I think there are some pro­mo­tional as­pects we as a league we can pur­sue that we wouldn’t have the op­por­tu­nity to pur­sue as a smaller league. Schools have mul­ti­me­dia deals with Learfield, etc. We’re look­ing into do­ing some­thing at the con­fer­ence level that would be sim­i­lar to in­sti­tu­tional deals with­out be­ing com­pet­i­tive. They’d be meant to be com­ple­men­tary. It would give us a chance to col­lec­tively raise some rev­enue for the schools that uni­lat­er­ally they could not. Pro­mo­tional and mar­ket­ing ideas. We could put some­thing to­gether that in­cluded all of our schools whereas the mar­keter wouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily do it with one school, but would do it with all of them. You do have to fi­nesse it be­cause you don’t want to in any way hurt the in­sti­tu­tional deals. We’re look­ing into that.”

On North Carolina coach Larry Fe­dora’s as­ser­tion Wed­nes­day that foot­ball is un­der at­tack: “I don’t think it is un­der at­tack. I think we have to re­spect the science and what it is show­ing us. I think there are, ap­pro­pri­ately, con­cerns about the safety of the game and those who play it. If you love the game and you care about its fu­ture, I think we then have to take that re­spect and eval­u­ate what needs to be done. I think that can range from when young kids start play­ing the game and how they play it, when does tackle foot­ball be­gin, how is it coached, how it’s taught, should youth coaches be cer­ti­fied and know what they’re do­ing and how they should teach the game be­cause of the po­ten­tial in­jury risk, the rules of the game it­self. We started with tar­get­ing, and as frus­trat­ing as it is to fans at times, it’s ab­so­lutely the right thing to do for the play­ers and the game go­ing for­ward. We talked about the kick­off rule, and I don’t think that’s over. I think there’s prob­a­bly more to come with that over the next few years. The rules as­pect of it is im­por­tant. I think we need to be work­ing with manufactur­ing com­pa­nies in terms of equip­ment and es­pe­cially the hel­met. There are signs there that should be con­cern­ing. If we’re not con­cerned we’re not at all pay­ing at­ten­tion.”

KEVIN HA­GEN AP

Duke's Wen­dell Carter Jr. poses with NBA Com­mis­sioner Adam Sil­ver af­ter he was picked sev­enth over­all by the Bulls dur­ing NBA draft last month in New York.

CHUCK BUR­TON AP

ACC com­mis­sioner John Swof­ford speaks dur­ing a news con­fer­ence Wed­nes­day at ACC col­lege foot­ball me­dia day in Char­lotte, N.C.

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