ACC commissioner John Swofford announced his retirement on Thursday, effective June 2021. The news was first reported by David Teel of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Swofford has run the conference since 1997, overseeing the league’s expansion from nine schools to 15. Swofford’s ACC obliterated the rival Big East by acquiring Miami, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Syracuse, Pitt and Louisville, plus Notre Dame as a non-football member. (The conference also lost Maryland to the Big Ten.)
Swofford, 71, also secured perhaps the last conference TV network deal, launching the ACC Network in partnership with ESPN last August.
A North Wilkesboro, N.C., native, Swofford played quarterback and defensive back at North Carolina, helping the Tar Heels to the 1971 ACC title. He earned his Master’s degree at Ohio, then worked under future ACC commissioner Gene Corrigan at Virginia before becoming UNC’s AD at the age of 31.
In running the department from 1980 to ’97, Tar Heels teams won at least one national title in every year of Swofford’s tenure — after not winning a single title at all from 1957 to 1980.
“It has been a privilege to be a part of the ACC for over five decades and my respect and appreciation for those associated with the league throughout its history is immeasurable,” said Swofford. “Having been an ACC student-athlete, athletics director and commissioner has been an absolute honor. There are immediate challenges that face not only college athletics, but our entire country, and I will continue to do my very best to help guide the conference in these unprecedented times through the remainder of my tenure. Nora and I have been planning for this to be my last year for some time and I look forward to enjoying the remarkable friendships and memories I’ve been blessed with long after I leave this chair.”
Under Swofford’s leadership, the ACC increased its lead as the nation’s best basketball conference while becoming more competitive in football and baseball.
ACC teams won eight men’s basketball championships, three football crowns and snapped a 60-year baseball title drought when Virginia won the College World Series in 2015.
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