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Swofford wraps up 2014 ACC meetings

Written by Sam Werner on .

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. — ACC commission John Swofford sat down with reporters today to put a bow on the 2014 ACC meetings. Here are a couple of notes on items passed this week as well as some thoughts from Swofford on the overall state of the league...

- The biggest news, obviously, was the decision to stick with eight conference games for football. This was pretty much expected to happen going into the meetings, and one of the main reasons was that teams like Clemson, Florida State and Georgia Tech already have traditional power conference rivals, and were hesitant to lock in their schedule any more.
"One of the reasons for staying at eight but having this minimal additional requirement is to give schools some flexibility in their scheduling," Swofford said. "I don't think it'll change a whole lot from where schools have scheduled in the past. People have a pretty good idea of where their program is competitively at given points in time, and I think they'll generally try to schedule to that."

- The ACC will experiment with a 30-second shot clock in its men's basketball exhibition games this year. This was something most of the coaches were in favor of, so the league is going to try it out.
"Our coaches and ADs both felt that would be an enhancement to the game in today's world," Swofford said. "Obviously it adds more possessions and potentially would speed up the game."
After this season, coaches will give their feedback on how it went and determine if this is something the ACC should look into further moving forward.

- The league voted to add an eighth on-field official for all conference football games this year. This is only for conference games, and the new official will likely be lined up in the offensive backfield, according to Swofford. The SEC and Big 12 have done this in the past, and the main goal is to help teams that run up-tempo offenses, as an extra official will be able to keep the pace of the game moving and spot the ball quicker than just seven officials on the field.

- At the behest of football coaches and ADs, Swofford will push the Collegiate Commissioners Association (CCA) to add an early letter-of-intent signing period for football. The proposed date would be August 1, at which point players who want to can sign their LOIs for the following year (as opposed to the regular date which is the first Wednesday in February).
"Our feelings are that would be a healthy thing for the recruits, for the student-athletes in the sense that it gives them an opportunity to make their decision, fully commit to it and sign, then being able to play and study during their senior season without the distractions of the recruiting process, which can be very significant," Swofford said. "Our feeling is that if a player knows where he wants to go and is ready to make that commitment, it really enhances the situation for that player first of all and also for the institutions as well."
Most coaches have been pushing this for a while, but there has recently been some pushback (notably by Stanford coach David Shaw) on the issue. This is one that I really could see going either way, and it'll be interesting to see how it progresses.

- The ACC women's basketball tournament will stay in Greensboro, N.C., through 2022, and the baseball tournament will move to Durham, N.C., and the Durham Bulls' facility from 2015-18.

- Swofford said he was pleased with how the NCAA governance reform is progressing, a topic I wrote about in today's PG. Specifically, he likes that the proposed reform would include the athletic directors, who he referred to as the "day-to-day practitioners," more in the process.
"The processes that we have now, as an unintended consequence, really weren't utilizing the expertise of the athletic directors nearly to the degree that we felt like needed to be," Swofford said. "That's being addressed very directly, also. This ultimately I think will turn out to be a very, very significant change."
As for the supermajority threshold that has been panned by some (such as Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby) and enthusiastically supporter by others (like Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick), Swofford didn't really give a firm position either way.
"I think that we need to continue the conversation on that," he said. "The things that are in autonomy are important issues.
"On the one hand there needs to be significant support for autonomy issues. On the other hand you don't want it to be so high that the system is ineffective in bringing about change. I think that's one reason for the continued discussion period. Hopefully in the end, we'll hit the sweet spot."

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