ACC Commissioner John Swofford
John Swofford enters his 18th year as Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner having made a dramatic impact on the ACC and college athletics. The longest-tenured commissioner and only the fourth in league history, Swofford has built his career on the appropriate balance of academics, athletic achievement and integrity while earning recognition as one of the top administrators in the NCAA. In addition to overseeing one of the nation’s largest athletic conferences, Swofford has been pivotal in positioning the ACC for the future.
- Spearheaded by Swofford and the leadership of its institutions, the Atlantic Coast Conference Council of Presidents announced on April 22, 2013, that each of its current and future 15 members had signed a grant of media rights. In addition to highlighting the solidarity and commitment of the ACC membership, the move further secured the league’s future and its position as one of the nation's premier conferences.
- During his tenure, Swofford has directed the league from a nine to 15 member conference that now spans the entire Eastern Seaboard and beyond with a geographic area that boasts the highest population and the most households of any conference nationally. The past decade has seen the ACC expand and grow stronger with the addition of seven of the nation's most prestigious universities.
- On September 12, 2012, on behalf of the league's member institutions and the ACC Council of Presidents, Swofford introduced Notre Dame as a member of the ACC. The Fighting Irish officially joined the ACC on July 1, 2013, along with Pittsburgh and Syracuse. Notre Dame competes as a full member in all conference sponsored sports with the exception of football, which will play five games annually against league programs.
- On November 28, 2012, on behalf of the league's member institutions and the ACC Council of Presidents, Swofford introduced the University of Louisville as the newest member of the ACC. Louisville, with its aggressive approach to excellence in every respect, officially joined the ACC on July 1, 2014, and will help position the league to compete at the highest level of all facets of the collegiate experience.
- On September 18, 2011, on behalf of the league's member institutions and the ACC Council of Presidents, Swofford introduced the University of Pittsburgh and Syracuse University as the newest members of the ACC. The additions, which became official on July 1, 2013, further strengthen the league's rich tradition of balancing academics and athletics while also enhancing the ACC's reach into the states of New York and Pennsylvania.
- In 2003, on behalf of the league's member institutions and the ACC Council of Presidents, Swofford led the conference through an expansion period that saw Miami and Virginia Tech officially join for the 2004-05 academic year, and Boston College a year later. In becoming a 12-member league, Swofford helped bring the ACC extended and enhanced exposure across television and national radio packages and strongly positioned it for the future.
All of these additions further bolstered the ACC as a vibrant and competitive league dedicated to ensuring the appropriate balance of academics, athletics and integrity.
- During the summer of 2012, Swofford was instrumental in shaping the new postseason format for college football. As a part of the new format, the ACC and Orange Bowl Committee announced a 12-year agreement that annually features the ACC Champion in the Orange Bowl, to be played on New Year’s Day at 1:00 pm beginning after the 2014 season.
- In May of 2012, Swofford’s leadership and negotiating skills helped the conference extend its exclusive, multi-platform agreement with ESPN. The agreement runs through 2026-27 and features a substantial increase in value and exposure. This enhanced television package begins with the 2012-13 academic year and reaches new heights financially for the leagues 12 member institutions. ACC content will now be televised more than at any point in league history, both regionally and nationally, while also best positioning the conference within the continuous, ever-changing world of technology.
- The ACC showcased its inaugural Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game, matching the winners of the Atlantic and Coastal Divisions, in 2005 to a sellout crowd. Now entering its 10th year, the game is set to be played at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium through 2019. The game has been extremely successful from a fan experience and attendance standpoint, averaging nearly 70,000 fans per contest (69,632). That includes sellout crowds in both 2010 and 2011 and an ACC Football Championship record crowd of 73,675 in 2011. Over the last four years, the ACC ranks second among all conferences in total attendance at its football championship games.
- From a football postseason bowl perspective, the league will be represented as one of the Power 5 conferences in the new College Football Playoff. The ACC and Orange Bowl Committee continue their relationship as part of the new system and the league announced additional relationships with the Capital One Bowl and the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, the Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso, the New Era Pinstripe Bowl in New York, theTaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, the Franklin American Music City Bowl in Nashville, the Military Bowl, the Independence Bowl and the Detroit Bowl. Overall, the future lineup provides more postseason opportunities, flexibility, improved financials, marquee matchups and attractive destinations.
- Under Swofford’s tenure, the prestigious ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament has traveled to many dynamic cities within the footprint of the league including Atlanta, Ga., Washington DC and Tampa, Fla., in addition to the traditional stops in Greensboro and Charlotte. The 2001 ACC Tournament in Atlanta set NCAA attendance records for single session (40,083), per session average (36,505) and total attendance (182,525). Recent months have seen the league reach an historic agreement with Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., to showcase the tournament to the New York City area for the first time in 2017 and again in 2018. The ACC Tournament will also return to Washington, D.C., in 2016, as well as Charlotte in 2019 and Greensboro in 2020.
- Swofford's efforts were recognized in May of 2014 by the Sports Business Journal, which recognized the Atlantic Coast Conference as a finalist for its Sports League of the Year Award.
- In the sport of basketball, Swofford was instrumental in creating the ACC/Big Ten Challenge that began in men’s basketball in 1999. In 2007, the two conferences also began hosting he inaugural ACC/Big Ten Women’s Basketball Challenge.
- In his first year as Commissioner, Swofford placed an added emphasis on the development of women’s basketball in the ACC with the hiring of an Associate Commissioner for Women’s Basketball to oversee all aspects of the sport on both a conference and national level. As the Athletics Director at North Carolina, Swofford also hired the first African American head coach in the ACC in 1981.
Student-Athlete Welfare & Outreach
- A long-time advocate of the importance of academics and student-athlete welfare, Swofford stimulated the formation of the league’s first-ever ACC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. This group of current ACC student-athletes gives the conference direct feedback on their experiences competing at the highest level of college athletics.
- Swofford was instrumental in the enhancement of the league’s ACC Postgraduate Scholarship Awards program by ensuring that additional scholarship dollars are distributed to more student-athletes than at any point in the league’s history.
- The long-time partnership between the ACC and United Way has flourished under Swofford’s leadership. His commitment to public service and volunteerism across the member institutions has been highlighted through the league’s Public Service Announcements. Across the collegiate landscape, the relationship with United Way is unique to the ACC and its member institutions.
- Under Swofford’s direction, the ACC launched a “Community Connections” outreach program which sponsored educational and mentoring activities along with donating books to the communities in which the league holds its conference championships. The initiative was created in 2010-11 to teach life lessons to elementary and middle school students by the ACC’s student-athletes visiting local schools to discuss topics such as the importance of healthy living and sportsmanship.
- During Swofford’s first 17 years as Commissioner, ACC teams won 67 national team titles and 2,014 ACC teams participated in various NCAA championships - an average of nearly 118 conference teams per year.
- In football, the ACC is coming off a 2013 season that saw Florida State claim the national title and Clemson capture the Orange Bowl, making the ACC the only conference to finish the BCS era with three consecutive BCS postseason wins. At least six ACC teams have earned bowl bids in each of the last seven seasons, including an NCAA-record 11 teams in 2013. The conference broke its own record set in in 2008, when 10 of the ACC’s then-12 teams (83 percent) participated in bowl play.
- During his tenure, the ACC has won five NCAA Men’s Basketball titles, more than any other conference. In addition, the league was represented by three of its women’s basketball programs in the 2006 NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four. In that same year, it was an all-ACC final as the conference claimed its second NCAA Women’s Basketball National title.
- A native of North Wilkesboro, N.C., Swofford was a Morehead Scholar at the University of North Carolina. He played on UNC’s 1971 ACC Football Championship team and was a member of the ACC Academic Honor Roll. He received his Masters of Education in Athletic Administration from Ohio University and then began his career at the University of Virginia in 1973. He returned to his alma mater in 1976 and became the school’s athletic director on May 1, 1980. At the age of 31, he was the youngest major college Athletics Director in the nation at the time and served as its Director of Athletics from 1980-1997. UNC’s athletic program led the league in both ACC and NCAA Championships during Swofford’s tenure as Athletic Director.
John and his wife Nora reside in Greensboro, NC, and together they have three children: Amie, Chad and Autumn, who is married to Sherman Wooden. Autumn and Sherman have two daughters: Maya and Lyla.
Full Name: John Douglas Swofford
Hometown: North Wilkesboro, NC
Wife: Nora Swofford
Children: Amie, Chad, Autumn (husband Sherman Wooden)
Grandchildren: Maya, Lyla
High School: Wilkes Central High School, 1967, North Wilkesboro, NC
College: University of North Carolina, 1971
Morehead Scholarship Recipient • BA in Industrial Relations
Graduate: Ohio University, 1973 • MEd. in Athletics Administration
- Two-time All-State QB and three-sport MVP at Wilkes Central High School
- North Carolina varsity football team quarterback and defensive back
- Peach Bowl, 1970
- Gator Bowl, 1971
- ACC Champions, 1971
- ACC Academic Honor Roll, 1970-71
Athletic Administration Experience
- Ticket Manager/Asst. to the Director of Athletic Facilities and Finance
- University of Virginia
- Assistant Athletics Director and Business Manager University of North Carolina
- Assistant Executive Vice-President of the Educational Foundation
- University of North Carolina
- Director of Athletics, University of North Carolina
- Commissioner Atlantic Coast Conference
Membership on Boards & Committees
- Sports Business Journal’s Sports Business Awards Committee, 2011-present
- National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Honorary Board, 2009-present
- North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame Advisory Board, 2008-present
- Wyndham Championship Board of Directors, 2002-present
- NCAA Men’s College Basketball Officiating, LLC Board, 2010-2012
- College Football Officiating, LLC Board of Managers, 2008-2012
- National Letter of Intent Appeals Committee, 2002-2012
- BCS Coordinator, 2000-01, 2008-09
- IA Collegiate Commissioner’s Assoc. (Chair), 2005-07
- NCAA Football Board of Directors (President), 2004-05
- NCAA Executive Committee, 1995-97
- NCAA Division I Championship Committee (Chair), 1995-97
- NCAA Special Committee to Study a Division I-A Football Championship, 1994-95
- President of NACDA, 1993-94
- NCAA Special Events Committee, 1987-91
- NCAA Communications Committee (Chair), 1987-89
- NCAA Football Television Committee 1982-86; (Chair), 1984-86
Honors & Awards
- Corbett Award, 2011 (presented annually by NACDA as the highest honor one can achieve in collegiate athletics administration)
- Achievement in Business Award, 2011 (presented annually by Ohio University’s College of Business)
- Father of the Year, 2011 (recognized by the Greater Greensboro Area Father’s Day Council)
- North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, 2009
- Homer Rice Award, 2005 (presented by the Division 1A Athletic Directors’ Association)
- Horizon Award, 2004 (presented by the Atlanta Sports Council recognizing the National Sports Business Executive of the Year)
- Chick-fil-A Bowl Hall of Fame, 2003
- Fifth most influential person in U.S. sports by the Sporting News, 2003
- Outstanding American Award for the Triangle Chapter of the College Football Hall of Fame, 2002
- North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s Hall of Fame, 2002
- Ohio University’s Charles R. Higgins Distinguished Alumnus Award, 1984