Thursday, May 15, 2008

ACC meetings calm in troubling times

The ACC concluded its spring meetings in Fernandina Beach, Fla., this week with the least amount of fanfare in recent memory.


The conference’s TV contracts are in place through the end of the 2010-11 academic year. Any serious tinkering with the ACC’s schedules will come when the TV deals expire, so that the conference can maximize the financial payoff of its changes.

(Speaking of TV, the ACC performed well on ESPN in 2007-08. The league had at least one team in five of ESPN’s top 10 rated basketball games, and the second Duke-North Carolina game was ESPN’s highest-rated game ever. In football, Clemson-Florida State was ESPN’s highest-rated game of the season, and Boston College-Virginia Tech was ESPN’s highest-ever rated Thursday night game).

Don’t be fooled by the lack of action on the ACC agenda, though. There are a lot of national issues, particularly in basketball, of paramount concern.

The NCAA is devoting extra enforcement to basketball. The NBA’s age limit has created a lot of potential for improper relationships between agents and players who are essentially forced to go to college for one year.

Allegations of improper payments to O.J. Mayo before he attended Southern California might just be the first revelations of an epidemic.

(Incidentally, Clemson athletics director Terry Don Phillips sure looks fortunate that Tim Floyd turned down his job offer five years ago. Instead, Phillips landed Oliver Purnell, who’s almost universally praised for his program building and integrity. Floyd now is handling a huge mess at USC.)

In basketball and football, players are committing to schools at increasingly earlier ages. Kentucky reportedly recently received a commitment from an eighth-grader.

None of these developments is good for college athletics. No matter how placid things seemed for the ACC this week, these are troubling times for the NCAA.

– Ken Tysiac