AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. -- Greetings from day one of the ACC spring meetings, Pitt fans.
Having just started covering Pitt basketball a few weeks ago, I'm new to all of this, but I quickly learned one thing about the ACC spring meetings -- not very much happens on the first day. Effectively, it's a chance for coaches and administrators to touch base and set the agenda for the week. So the news from today will admittedly be a little sparse.
A major talking point entering the meetings was the possible creation of an ACC Network, a measure that would attempt to close the financial gap that exists between the ACC and larger leagues like the Big Ten and SEC, both of which have profitable TV networks. In an interview two weeks ago, Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich gave voice to this, saying the conference worries it has fallen behind other power conferences because of its lack of a network (and, thus, the revenues that come with it) and that there's a sense of urgency to get one created.
“I know there is a lot of work going on within the league office and our consultant is actually handling the negotiations,” Radakovich said to The Clemson Insider. “I know with commissioner [John] Swofford that is the first thing he thinks about every time he walks into the office.”
Radakovich, as well as Pitt AD Scott Barnes, declined to go into specifics about a potential ACC Network, referring all questions to Swofford, who won't speak until the conclusion of the meetings Thursday afternoon.
"We want one voice on that," Barnes said.
Barnes, however, did elaborate some on the league's current TV situation.
“The more robust you develop your TV, whether that’s a network or other means, the better," he 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. There are a number of ways to do it."
I'll have a story on the situation with the ACC Network in tomorrow's Post-Gazette. Not a whole lot was added to that discussion Monday, but the story presents the topic and goes into some level of detail on it.
Here are a few other scattered notes from Monday's meetings:
** While very few details were revealed, the ACC television committee and the league's athletic directors met for one hour longer than they were originally scheduled to (running three hours instead of two). For what it's worth.
** Barnes said the ADs had a "robust discussion" about satellite camps with the conference's football coaches (a little more on that later). Other topics of discussion Monday, according to Barnes, included the graduate transfer rule, television (though not necessarily a network) and the logistics of next season's ACC tournament in Brooklyn. Panthers football coach Pat Narduzzi said they also talked about time demands placed on athletes and contact at football practices.
** Though neither he nor Barnes agree with the NCAA's reversal of its ban on satellite camps, Narduzzi said Pitt will participate in them this summer.
"If the NCAA is going to allow us to do it, I’m not going to handcuff the University of Pittsburgh and not do them," he said. "We’ll go out. That’s what you do as coaches – you adjust in a suddenly-changing situation."
** A few final comments from Narduzzi and Barnes on the satellite camp issue:
Narduzzi: "One of the reasons not to have them, which is a moot point at this point, is being with our kids back on campus. We’ll have a program that starts up. Our kids are there and we’re allowed to work with them and do some sort of football-related activities for two hours during the week. If we’re not there, it’s hard to have those activities. When you have 105 children there, it becomes time we’re taking away from our kids. One of the things that came out between the time there were no satellite camps to when they brought them back was the opportunities for kids. As the ACC as a whole, we totally disagree with that. If we’ve got 20 scholarships to give, we’re going to give 20 opportunities. Everybody is going to give those opportunities out.”
Barnes: “I look at this as short term and long term. In the short term, that space is available and will we play in it. Will we play in it? Yet to be determined, but we may do that a little bit this summer. We’re looking at plans for that. Pat and I have talked a little bit about it, but we haven’t sat down. We need to talk about the specific plans of doing it.”
"As it relates to satellite camps, one of the biggest issues is the culture and how you mitigate the influence the non-scholastic entity has on football. It isn’t by having satellite camps. I promise you that. That’s an issue. Another issue is we spend all this time trying to keep up with the Jones’. Two things are impacted by that, minimum. One of them is we have 25 new student-athletes coming to our campus. We should be spending our time with them, not out in the hinterlands chasing other camps. The second is the quality of life of our coaches. They spend an inordinate amount of time on the road anyway. Now, if we’re back in this game, there is going to be less time at home for them. The non-scholastic entities are really concerning to me. It’s part of a bigger issue that’s a culture, this camp culture. We need to take a comprehensive look at this, back at the football oversight level and really look at this long-term and comprehensively and come back to the table with legislation. You understand we’re here short term, but long term, there’s got to be a better solution.”
“The first run at this didn’t work the way it was intended to work. So, where do we go from here? I don’t know, but it wasn’t a good start.”
** And, finally, Barnes speaking a little bit more about the league's TV situation:
"The digital platform we talked a lot about that today and we’ll continue to expand that. People are watching and getting their information in different ways. The social media platform continues to grow and we need to be ahead of that curve. That’s not the network, but just talking about how there are any different number of ways to grow, whether it’s through the network or any other way. John can talk to you specifically about that. Otherwise, I like where we sit. What I like about the ACC is it’s an incredible group of high-level institutions with solid programs across the board with great history and a great footprint.”
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