Phillips sees potential in ACC scheduling models

Commissioner Jim Phillips discussed a range of topics in an interview on the ACC Network’s Packer & Durham show Thursday morning. Here are some of the highlights.

Exploring football scheduling adjustments

The ACC has not as of yet finalized a scheduling model for the 2023 season but coaches and administrators don’t feel they needed to this week at Amelia Island. One of the options on the table is a 3-3-5 proposal, with three permanent opponents and five rotating schools. It would allow for a football player to compete against every school within a four-year period.

“Listening over the last 12 months I can feel that we weren’t getting to different places,” Phillips said. “Schools weren’t getting up north from down south and vice versa. That leads to some really nice rivalries. But then as we started to go through it and objectively look at it started to get some momentum. In the end I think there’s some really good possibilities with this new potential model. And we’ll do what the membership wants.”

Phillips said “ultimately the ADs will decide.” There does not appear to be consensus on which model to pick and some schools, including Pittsburgh, favor retaining divisions. But there also is an opportunity to create matchups that will be appealing to fans, enticing them to come to games or watch on TV. Administrators from the schools and Phillips will be discussing proposals with ESPN.

Transformation of the NCAA

Phillips is part of the transformation committee that has a chance to reshape what the NCAA looks like as well as what its focus will be in the future. He mentioned some NCAA restrictions such as expanding the number of preseason camp days by two to prepare for the season.

“We have to continue our work in the transformation committee,” Phillips said. “You have to listen to the membership. Now 361 schools in Division I that don’t look the same. You’ll see some opportunities for deregulation. … The things that bind us together are the championships and specifically men’s basketball. And we still have a runway there of connectivity.”

Phillips said he did not see a “breakaway” of schools or leagues from the NCAA. But he offered some of his viewpoints on what the mission of college athletics should be.

“Over the next decade, I think we’re pretty strong in college athletics,” Phillips said. “We have issues, but I think we’re pretty strong. And part of this ends up being your compass about what your responsibility is to the greater good of higher education and college sports. We have 500,000 student-athletes (in the U.S.) that benefit each and every day from access and affordability to higher education, and then that leads to opportunity in life. I don’t know that a lot of us want to run away from that. But what we do want to be able to do is control where we’re at and be able to provide the resources necessary and treat our student-athletes we’d like to treat them in some of the areas I just described.”

The strength of the ACC sport-by-sport

This has been a very good calendar year for the ACC, which has won national titles in women’s soccer (FSU), men’s soccer (Clemson), women’s cross country (NC State), women’s swimming and diving (Virginia) and fencing (Notre Dame). Athletes like FSU’s Trey Cunningham also won the 60-meter indoor hurdles. Phillips praised the quality of the person, student and athlete, in the league.

“This is just an amazing league,” said Phillips, who became commissioner in Feb. 2021. “The quality of young people, the student-athletes first and foremost. You can have it all in our league. You can go and get a prestigious world-class degree and you can also kick butt on the field of competition. You can go out in the community and make a difference, social justice causes or anything that’s of interest to you. It’s been even more impressive than I believed it to be, and I really had high standards coming in.”

ACC Network distribution surpasses 90 million homes

Phillips mentioned the ACC is now available in 91 million homes after the carriage agreement between Disney and Comcast. “That will also be good for us financially,” Phillips said. He thinks schools will use the money to invest in football.

Phillips met with media on Wednesday

Below is a video with Phillips and media covering the spring meetings on Wednesday: