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Swofford touts conference’s collective academic achievements, looks ahead to promising season
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (theACC.com) – As the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Operation Basketball launched another year of high expectations, Commissioner John Swofford met with media in attendance at the 53rd annual preseason event early Wednesday afternoon.
With five ACC teams among the nation’s preseason Top 25 and four Hall of Fame coaches now among the conference’s ranks, Swofford counts himself among the most optimistic with slightly more than two weeks remaining until the start of the 2014-15 season.
But before turning his attention to basketball and media inquiries, Swofford touched upon other positive developments since he last met with the league’s media during the ACC Football Kickoff in July.
“I continue to be inspired by our collective member institutions and student-athletes,” Swofford said. “The academic accomplishments on an annual basis show that the ACC leads the way among the Power 5 conferences.”
Swofford cited the annual US News and World Report survey of “Best Colleges” that was released in September and showed ACC member institutions once again leading with an average rank of 54.8. This marked the eighth straight year the ACC has led the Power 5 leagues.
“Our student-athletes also excelled in the recently released NCAA Graduation Success Rates,” Swofford noted. “Teams from ACC institutions rank among the top Division I institutions with an average graduation rate of 88.1 percent, while the NCAA graduation rate is 82 percent nationally.”
Swofford singled out Notre Dame soccer player Elizabeth Tucker, was named the 2014 NCAA Woman of the Year – one the organization’s highest honors. The commissioner also focused on the much discussed topic of autonomy for the NCAA’s five power conferences
“There is still a lot to be addressed, but I believe that this process is key for enhanced student-athlete benefits and experience,” Swofford said. “The ACC and our counterparts have submitted topics to the NCAA for inclusion in this current legislative cycle. On December 1st, and on behalf of our 15 member institutions, we will submit specific legislation for consideration and for an ultimate vote during the January NCAA Convention.”
Swofford said that each of the topics submitted “surround our belief that we need to continue to ensure that the student-athlete experience reflects the needs of the 21st century and better addresses the challenges that our five conferences, as well as all of Division I, face going forward. Hopefully, this autonomy approach will help make the NCAA a more nimble and effective organization.”
Swofford noted a number of highlights in regard to the upcoming ACC basketball season:
Swofford welcomed three new head coaches to the league in Jim Christian of Boston College, Buzz Williams of Virginia Tech and Danny Manning of Wake Forest. This year will also mark the ACC debut of Louisville and head coach Rick Pitino. Pitino is one of the league’s four active Division I coaches in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame along with Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, North Carolina’s Roy Williams and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim.
“While talking about these four coaches, it’s worth noting a few of the accomplishments that have set them apart across the entire collegiate landscape,” Swofford said. Among those mentioned by the commissioner:
“Collectively, our 15 head coaches enter this season with 6,427 wins, nine national titles, 302 NCAA Tournament victories, 80 Sweet 16 appearances, 30 trips to the Final Four and 18 national title game appearances,” Swofford told those attending Wednesday’s gathering.
Swofford added his congratulations to Krzyzewski and Boeheim for leading Team USA and winning the FIFA World Championships.
“With such successful programs and the great anticipation we see year in and year out for ACC Basketball, I have no doubt that this season will once again be a must-watch,” Swofford said.