ACC NOTEBOOK: Swofford, K talk ACC, college basketball
ACC Commissioner John Swofford said that paying college athletes “is a disaster waiting to happen,” but he supported ways of sending them additional money.
“Personally I’m not for paying players,” Swofford said during a forum with media members at Wednesday’s ACC Operation Basketball. “But I’m for enhancing fundamentally the concept of the athletic grant made that we have now.”
That could come in the form of an additional stipend, or an increase in the scholarship to cover the full cost of attendance, which is generally a difference of $2,000-$3,000.
“I still think that the opportunity to get a free education at the quality of schools… and play a sport that you love, is a pretty good deal,” Swofford said. “But at the same time, we can’t live with our heads stuck in the sand.”
Swofford also touched on the future of the ACC Tournament. The event is scheduled to be in Greensboro for the next two seasons, but the location hasn’t been determined in 2016 and beyond.
Swofford said that the league has enjoyed great success when it comes to North Carolina but the expanded conference is now looking at other locations as well, including New York City.
“New York City is a prominent part of our footprint,” Swofford said. “I think there’s great interest in and respect for the Atlantic Coast Conference and the basketball programs that are in our conference. It’s the media capital of the world. It’s a great college basketball city. So there’s certainly some logic to the tournament potentially being in the New York market at some point in time.”
Still, a New York City-based tournament would depend on the availability of Madison Square Garden or the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, both of which currently have contracts with other conferences.
Swofford also said that the conference is still in the process of evaluating whether an ACC Network would make sense, and that he was “perplexed” as to why Miami’s NCAA infractions case was taking so long to reach a conclusion. The Hurricanes had its hearing with the NCAA in June on charges that more than 70 players received impermissible benefits.
DUKE PICKED TO WIN
A poll of media attending Operation Basketball on Wednesday picked Duke as the favorite to win the ACC championship this season.
The Blue Devils received 50 of the possible 54 first-place votes to outdistance second-place Syracuse, which had three first-place votes. North Carolina, which had one first-place vote, came in third.
Those three were followed by Virginia, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Maryland, Boston College, Florida State, N.C. State, Georgia Tech, Miami, Wake Forest, Clemson and Virginia Tech in that order
Syracuse’s C.J. Fair was the pick as preseason ACC Player of the Year, while Duke freshman Jabari Parker was projected as the league’s Rookie of the Year.
The preseason all-ACC includes Fair, Parker, Duke’s Rodney Hood, Virginia’s Joe Harris and Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant.
EXPANDING THE BRAND
This season’s additions of Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame — and with Louisville coming aboard next season — to the league have many, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski included, saying the ACC will be the best collection of basketball programs in one conference the game has ever seen.
One thing that Krzyzewski, in particular, likes about the expanded 15-team league is the opportunity to make the ACC brand more diverse. Adding those four perennial NCAA Tournament teams can only create more rivalries.
“We are going to be more than Duke-Carolina showcasing the league,” Krzyzewski said. “I think it’s a great time. I some ways, I think it’s held us back at times.”
Of N.C. State’s six leading scorers from last season, sophomore T.J. Warren is the only one who will play for the Wolfpack this year.
The Durham native who once placed at Riverside High School, said he’s ready for the added attention.
“I have a year under my belt,” Warren said. “Now I feel a lot more comfortable with the offense.”
As a freshman, Warren averaged 12.1 points and 4.2 rebounds while shooting an ACC-best 62.2 percent from the floor. Warren and sophomore guard Tyler Lewis are the only returning players who saw more than 20 total minutes on the court last season.
C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown went pro early, Richard Howell and Scott Wood graduated and Rodney Purvis transferred to Connecticut.
“We were so talented last year,” Warren said. “When everybody left, (everyone said) ‘It’s all on T.J., it’s all on Tyler.’ We prepared for it well and we trust our teammates so we’re going to make it work.”
Notre Dame senior guard Jerian Grant said that he’s ready to play in a different kind of atmosphere after moving from the Big East to the ACC.
“Going on the road and playing in these real college environments instead of these NBA gyms that are half (full) is going to be exciting for us,” Grant said.