The Next #ACC Commissioner, Part 3


Good evening, Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) sports fans.  The NBA Finals and the NHL Stanley Cup will keep us for company for a while, right?  However, we still have quite a way to go before college football starts lol.  As our friend @vabeachrep said, we have Arena Football League and I mentioned that we also have the Canadian Football League (that’s like a pro version of the Big 12 – passing attacks FTW).

In the past couple of weeks, we’ve looked at some potential successor candidates for ACC Commissioner, John Swofford.  Our site owner, @TalkinACCSports (Jeffrey Fann), has blogged extensively about what Swofford’s legacy might be.  We previously stated in Part 1 of our series that Swofford has the longest tenure of any ACC commissioner.

In Part 1 of our series, we discussed external candidates to fill that ACC commissioner position.  Specifically, we recommended Michael Kelly (The College Football Playoff Chief Operating Officer, Michael Aresco (the American Athletic Conference Commissioner), Brad Traviola (Big 10 Deputy Commissioner), Jeff Long (University of Arkansas Director of Athletics), and Jack Swarbrick (Notre Dame Director of Athletics.

In Part 2 of our series, we featured internal candidates within the ACC (current Directors of Athletics).  Specifically, we recommended Kevin White (Duke Director of Athletics), Tom Jurich (Louisville Director of Athletics), Stan Wilcox (Florida State Director of Athletics), Whit Babcock (Virginia Tech Director of Athletics), and Dan Radakovich (Clemson Director of Athletics).

Today, in Part 3 of our series, we narrow down the ten candidates mentioned above to our five finalists for ACC Commissioner.  Here we go:

  1. Michael Kelly (“The Favorite”) – Based on his broad level of experience, Michael Kelly is well-prepared to the the next ACC Commissioner.  Kelly is an alumnus of Wake Forest University and, earlier in his career, served as the institution’s Director of Athletic Operations and Facilities.  Kelly previously served as Senior Associate Commissioner for the ACC, overseeing broadcasting, communications and football. Kelly has experience with huge sporting events.  He served as the lead local executive for three different Super Bowls in three different communities, having been President of the Super Bowl Host Committee in Tampa Bay (Super Bowl XXXV), Jacksonville (Super Bowl XXXIX) and South Florida (Super Bowl XLI). He also served as the Executive Director for the 1999 NCAA Men’s Final Four Local Organizing Committee.  Finally, Kelly is now the Chief Operating Officer of the College Football Playoff, which probably the third largest sporting event in our country behind the Super Bowl and March Madness.  Kelly, therefore, is not only familiar with the culture of the ACC, but he’s also worked at the highest levels of college sports.

  1. Michael L. Aresco (“The Television Man”) – Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples recently reported on the increasing revenue gap between the SEC and Big 10 – and the rest of the Power 5 schools.  It’s not close.  The ACC needs to improve its television revenues.  That much is clear.  I believe Aresco’s television experience would be invaluable to the ACC (it would be awesome to have someone in that chair with high-level television experience).  Aresco was an Executive Vice President of Programming at CBS Sports.  Here’s his profile from the AAC website:  “Aresco came to the conference from CBS Sports where he was Executive Vice President, Programming. He was responsible for all college sports programming for CBS Sports and CBS Sports Network. Aresco oversaw the acquisition and management of CBS Sports college properties, including the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, regular-season college basketball and football, conference basketball championship games, football bowl games and other programming. His responsibilities included game selection and scheduling, day-to-day operations, contract negotiations, identification of future acquisitions, development of programming strategies and coordination of new media and marketing initiatives. Aresco played an integral role in the landmark deal that created the CBS Sports-Turner Broadcasting partnership, which resulted in the acquisition of the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship rights through 2024. He managed the complex 14-year agreement that provides expanded national broadcast and cable coverage of the NCAA basketball championship. Aresco also was instrumental in the CBS Television Network’s groundbreaking bundled rights agreement with the NCAA, which granted CBS exclusive rights to the NCAA tournament from 2003 through 2010. Aresco also played a key role in negotiating NCAA marketing agreements and in creating a partnership with IMG and the NCAA to assist in acquiring new NCAA corporate sponsors. He also was a significant contributor in the development of new media platforms for the NCAA Championship, including March Madness On Demand, a highly successful streaming platform.”

  2. Tom Jurich (“The Visionary”) – If you picked an athletic director to be the next ACC commissioner (as has been the trend – the last four commissioners were Athletic Directors at ACC institutions), then Jurich is the person you want.  This is a guy who has visionary leadership for his institution.  Jurich has led Louisville in its transition from Conference USA, to the Big East, and, now the ACC – and has been successful every step of the way (if you can do this – and be successful every step of the way – you are a visionary leader).  He knows how to make the big hire bringing in Charlie Strong and Bobby Petrino (twice) as head football coaches – and luring Rick Pitino (!!!!! WHO WAS ONCE AT KENTUCKY !!!!!!) in as head men’s basketball coach (I’m sure that had to drive Kentucky fans crazy lol).  Jurich’s Cardinals have the best facilities in the ACC (this guy can raise money) – and are likely going to finish with a top 25 ranking in the Learfield Sports Director’s Cup.  @TalkinACCSports (Jeffrey Fann) and I have talked and blogged on several occasions about Louisville’s successful first year in the ACC (we think trading Maryland out worked pretty well).

  1. Jack Swarbrick (“The Package Deal”) – Jack Swarbrick has some impressive accomplishments at Notre Dame.  Swarbrick was a major player in extending Notre Dame’s football contract with NBC Sports through the 2025 football season and in 2014 also helped negotiate a 10-year relationship with Under Armour to provide performance footwear, apparel and equipment for Irish athletic programs.  Finally, Swarbrick was somehow able to get Notre Dame a seat at the College Football Playoff table.   If Jack Swarbrick is the next ACC Commissioner, we also think that Notre Dame is coming to the conference as a full-time member institution.

  1. Kevin White (“The Old Guard”) – We know about Kevin White’s performance as Duke Director of Athletics (we blogged extensively about that in Part 2 of our series).  White has an unquestionable record of excellence not only with the performance of Duke’s Athletic Programs, but also as someone who invests in facilities and is a prolific fundraiser.  But there’s something else here, too.  Many of the – we’ll call them “Old Guard” ACC schools (e.g. North Carolina, Virginia, North Carolina State, Wake Forest) think that someone from this group should be the next ACC Commissioner – and the votes would only be for someone in the 919 area code.

So there, you have it – our top five candidates for the ACC Commissioner.  Would you pick someone else from our top ten as a top five candidate?  Do you think we missed someone?  Let us know either on Twitter or in the comments below – or on our Facebook Page.  Have a great week!!

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