In September, the Atlantic Coast Conference accepted applications from the Pittsburgh and Syracuse to join the ACC. With the additions, the conference will include 14 teams and stretch across the entire East Coast. After the announcement, Tech athletic director Dan Radakovich spoke at a press conference about the expansion.
What was the timeline of the addition?
It’s been an ongoing process for a year and a half. Over the last three to five weeks they’ve really looked at the landscape of college athletics and said that it’s a good time to ramp up. Our presidents who met for their fall meeting made it a priority on their agenda to approve the applications of those two schools over the weekend. We’re excited about having the Panthers and Orange in the Atlantic Coast Conference, whenever that happens to come to fruition.
Will this affect planned games against Syracuse in 2015 and 2016?
Even if the Big East decides to keep them in the conference for the mandated 27 months, the ’15 and ’16 seasons fall outside of that window. It would seem prudent for us to look at another opportunity for games in 2015 and 2016.
Were you concerned the ACC would split up?
There was always a lot of solidarity within the conference. Maybe not out in the media, but the conference had a lot of solidarity. That’s why the increase of the exit fee, while one person might look at that as a set of golden handcuffs, it really isn’t. It was something that was driven internally through the conference offices. We felt as a conference that we were always together and wanted to make sure that the main focus was to make the conference better.
Are there plans for division realignment?
None of that has come in to play. The ACC athletic directors will have their normal fall meeting this October, and I’m sure we’ll just touch on that subject at that point in time. The notion of when the teams come in is still rather iffy. I’m sure a lot of work will begin to happen, but no resolution is imminent on that.
What is the potential for even more teams to join the ACC?
I would have to agree with what commissioner [John] Swofford said, that we would not be averse to looking at that. This landscape continues to evolve, and I think that the main goal is to continue to make the ACC a viable national player for years to come, and if those opportunities present themselves, the process that we have in place will allow us to take advantage of that.
What’s your opinion on playing nine in-conference football games per season?
We talked about that the past 12 to 18 months and I think people were split down the middle. I happen to think in our circumstance that playing nine games would in some ways be very positive. … We think it would be a positive for our fan base. Over time we have seen that ACC games for the most part have been very good draws for us as opposed to some out-of-conference games. Not in every circumstance, but for the most part games that matter toward playing for a championship get the fan base very excited.
Will the additional travel be difficult for student-athletes?
Years ago travel from one part of the old Big Eight conference was pretty treacherous. We weren’t making that argument then. I think now as you look at the ways we’re going to move our Olympic sports student-athletes in particular, it is going to be a challenge. But I think there are many opportunities through creative scheduling, travel partners, sending academic personnel on the trips and new innovations on how class material is received by our students. There are a lot of different ways that students today get information from their class than there were 10 years ago. All of those things have to work in concert to make sure that the life-sport balance of our student-athletes is taken into consideration and kept very much in the forefront.
What do you think drew Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC?
I don’t think that the mainstream media picked up on how cohesive the conference was and is. There’s a lot of understanding internally of how positive the conference is to their student-athlete experience. I think we share common goals and understand that student-athletes are important, that the academic missions of the institutions are well aligned. I think that says a lot about how our presidents and faculty reps do their business within the conference. It’s a league of like schools and like-minded individuals. I think that’s very important as we move through this period of conference realignment. There’s also one other very important principle within the conference in that we share revenue, and that’s been a guiding principle within the conference for a long time.