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ACC only talking to Greensboro -- for now -- as it ponders relocation, commissioner says
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ACC only talking to Greensboro -- for now -- as it ponders relocation, commissioner says

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ACC Media Days Football

Jim Phillips took over as Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner this year.

CHARLOTTE — The ACC has yet to explore alternative options for the conference office, ACC commissioner Jim Phillips said Tuesday, with the potential relocation process focused entirely on Greensboro at the moment.

“The presidents will decide if there is a phase two, which would mean we would start to talk with other cities,” Phillips said at ACC basketball media day in his first public comments since news broke in August that the ACC was considering leaving Greensboro.

“I have not had one conversation with other cities. I have not. That’s the gospel. I have not.”

The decision whether or not to stay in Greensboro is part of a wider-ranging analysis of ACC operations being conducted by former Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney and former Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg, with an additional real-estate consultant specifically examining the headquarters issue.

Phillips said Tuesday it was the single biggest issue that came up both in the interview process and in his tour of all 15 campuses last spring.

“During that recruitment stage and interview stage it was talked about some with the presidents,” Phillips said. “The first meeting I had with the ACC staff, it was the first question that was asked by an ACC staff member. I had interviews with every ACC staff member. The majority of them asked me about it. I went to 15 campuses in the spring and was asked about it.”

The ACC was founded in Greensboro in 1953 and has been headquartered there ever since. But as the league has grown and expanded outward, there has been a near-constant thread of debate about whether the league would be better served with its office in a larger market.

Among other topics of interest from Phillips on Tuesday:

Comcast (and its 19 million cable customers) remains the last and largest hole in ACC Network carriage. Phillips said at football media days in July he was optimistic a deal would be reached between Comcast and Disney/ESPN soon, but three months later the network is still unavailable in key ACC markets, including much of Virginia.

Putting the Notre Dame-Virginia Tech game on the ACC Network didn’t move the needle.

“These deals are never that easy. They’re just not,” Phillips said. “Comcast knows the importance of the ACC Network moving forward to Disney and to ESPN, and we also understand Comcast has some things that they’re trying to work through. But it’s very amicable and we are farther along than we were in July, so there has been progress. Again, optimistic about getting this thing done.”

While the SEC fined Texas A&M after fans stormed the field celebrating a win over Alabama last weekend, Phillips said the ACC doesn’t have a policy on field/court storms and no one has been fined or otherwise disciplined since he took over. But it’s an area the ACC is looking to revisit after fans at Virginia Tech and N.C. State — as well as one football official — were injured this fall.

“Right now we have not fined anyone within the conference,” Phillips said. “We are discussing what those rules look like. The safety of the visiting team and the safety of the officials are paramount, and that gets lost by that home team at times. That has to remain part of our conversation. It has to remain as we head into basketball.”

The pace of College Football Playoff expansion has slowed since the 12-team proposal was floated this summer shortly before Oklahoma and Texas announced they were leaving the Big 12 for the SEC. Phillips told the News & Observer that the ACC remains pro-expansion but wants to take a more nuanced look at it heading into the next meeting in early November.

“The ACC is for expansion. I’ve said that before,” Phillips said. “I think everybody is for expansion. But when, what’s the right number, player safety, academics, academic calendar — is this the right time with conference expansion and some instability and the creation of a new NCAA constitution and what we all believe is going to be a new model, a new structure. All that stuff is mixed together that we’re trying to sort out. We all felt we just needed more time. It wasn’t ready to have a vote in September.”

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