NCAAF Commissioner Jim Phillips: ACC still place to be

Commissioner Jim Phillips understands the college sports landscape will experience seismic shifts with the likes of UCLA, Oklahoma, Texas and Southern California changing conferences in the near future.

Phillips said he still believes the Atlantic Coast Conference is the place to be, but implored his peers to act with the greater good in mind instead of tending to their own “gated communities.”

“I will continue to do what’s in the best interest of the ACC,” Phillips said at the conference’s media day kickoff on Wednesday. “But will also strongly advocate for college athletics to be a healthy neighborhood, not two or three gated communities.”

Florida State and Clemson have reportedly been active in searching for a new conference, although Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey wouldn’t confirm he spoke with other schools about joining college football’s most dominant league. Sankey also said this week he’s in opposition to expansion of the College Football Playoff — also dominated by SEC powers the likes of Alabama and Georgia — while Phillips said in a rebuttal it’s time to push the playoff to include at-large bids.

“The ACC continues to be supportive of an expanded College Football Playoff. I’m confident our concerns will be addressed and a new model with greater access will ultimately come to pass,” said Phillips, the former Northwestern athletic director.

FOX and ESPN are heavily involved in monetary gains for major conferences and SEC schools could be clearing more than $40 million or $50 million more than ACC schools as soon as the upcoming academic year, Yahoo Sports reported. Phillips acknowledged there is a gap — though he stopped well short of defining the delta — and said “all options are on the table” with regard to ways he’ll consider enticing current ACC members to stick around.

“Any new structure of the NCAA must serve the many, not a collective few,” Phillips said. “We are not the professional ranks. This isn’t the NFL or NBA Lite. This shouldn’t be a winner-take-all or zero-sum structure. College sports have never been elitist or singularly commercial.”

The Big Ten, with widening digital and broadcast markets to include Los Angeles schools UCLA and USC by 2024, could be set to pay as much as $100 million per school by that time, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Current agreements paid ACC schools $35 million to $40 million each in 2021.

“I love our 15 schools and I’m confident in us staying together,” Phillips said. “We continue to remain close in Notre Dame, they know how we feel, they know we’d love to have them as a football member in our conference but I also respect their independence.”

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Wednesday he is not worried — or breaking any type of news when he declares players don’t come to his program because of the conference.

“Whether the ACC goes to 52 teams or we move to a new ‘megatron-world conference’, I don’t really know,” Swinney said. “But people have never come to Clemson because of the league, honestly. People come to Clemson because we’re Clemson.”

–Field Level Media

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