GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The drama has subsided in the ACC, so much so that commissioner John Swofford spent a good part of his news conference at the kickoff discussing bigger issues in collegiate athletics.
Not once was he asked about conference stability. It is a new era indeed.
Swofford instead answered questions about the college football playoff, paying players, a pending lawsuit against the NCAA, and the end of the BCS. His most noteworthy remarks concerned the pay-for-play issue. Last week, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said coaches in the SEC wanted to pay players in football $300 per game to provide some extra money.
Swofford is not on board with that approach, but said he would be in favor of enhancing scholarships for all student-athletes.
"The whole idea of trying to enhance the financial well-being of student-athletes that are on scholarship is on our radar, and we’ve been talking about this nationally for several years now, without finding something that works, that agrees with enough people that works, and I think part of that is because it’s more complicated than first meets the eye," Swofford said.
"If we’re going to enhance the financial well-being of our student-athletes, it’s very difficult to look at it in terms of a sport or two sports. Just from a legal standpoint. Title IX and what’s appropriate, what’s legal. Personally, and this is a personal opinion and it’s not one that I can tell you the majority of our schools support at this point in time, the full cost of attendance as a scholarship would be helpful. I’m not for paying players. I don’t think that’s what college athletics is about, but I am for looking very diligently at a way to enhance the scholarship itself, whether it’s need-based, whether it’s based on a simple stipend that once existed or some other way to approach it, whether it’s going to the full cost of attendance. But you’ve got to be able to find something that enough people can accept and support to move it forward."
Swofford also was asked about the lawsuit Ed O'Bannon filed against the NCAA, which seeks to give players a cut of the money that goes to the NCAA, conferences and league schools. Clemson defensive back Darius Robinson recently joined the lawsuit, along with five other current football players.
"I don’t think anybody really knows where that will ultimately end up," Swofford said. "That’s more for the NCAA to speak to. Obviously it could have significant implications but who knows where it ends up. That’s something we’re going to have to keep our eye on and watch."
None of this is to say ACC football was completely ignored. It wasn't, not at all. Here are some of the league questions he addressed:
Swofford responded to Spurrier's assertion last week at media day that Notre Dame should join a conference in football. Notre Dame is in the ACC now for all sports but football.
"That was discussed when the league made the decision to bring Notre Dame in," Swofford said. "It’s the right thing to do at this point in time. It was a unanimous decision by our institutions and a very positive one that has already benefitted us without question. ... I’m really pleased and I know the vast majority of people in our league are pleased that ND is part of the ACC family under the conditions they are currently under."
Swofford was asked about attending Miami's NCAA Committee on Infractions meeting in June in Indianapolis. "What I took away is I thought the University of Miami and their personnel and their leadership and Mike Glazier handled it extraordinarily well," Swofford said. "I would hope that whatever is coming from the NCAA will come before the season starts. I’d be very disappointed if that was not the case."
Best line of the day: Swofford was asked about the final year of the BCS. "I was the only guy crazy enough to be its coordinator twice," he said. "I say that in jest. The BCS for all its issues and problems has been good for college football. The growth of the game during the existence of the BCS has been phenomenal; it turned the sport from a regional sport to a national sport where people were interested in what was happening on the other side of the continent because it might affect who was playing in the national championship game. All of the controversy will not disappear. Will never disappear. We’ve taken a leap forward with the college football playoff approach."
As for the future site of the ACC championship game, Swofford anticipates a decision will be made around the time of this year's game. Charlotte is in the running to host again.