Now in his 16th year as Commissioner, and just the fourth in Atlantic Coast Conference history, John Swofford has made a dramatic impact on the ACC and college athletics. Swofford has built his career on the appropriate balance of academics, athletic achievement and integrity and is regarded 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 Atlantic Coast Conference for the future.
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 Discover 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.
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 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 expansion. 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.
The ACC showcased its inaugural Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game in 2005 to a sellout crowd. Now in its eighth year, the game will be played in Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium following the 2012 and 2013 regular-seasons. During its first two years in Charlotte, the ACC Football Championship Game was played before sellout crowds.
Since becoming Commissioner, Swofford has been responsible for securing increased bowl opportunities and for the third year, the ACC has agreements in place with nine bowls including the Discover Orange Bowl, home of the ACC Champion since 2006. Highly respected by his peers, Swofford was a force in the development and growth of the Bowl Championship Series and is the only person to serve two terms as its coordinator.
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).
In the sport of basketball, Swofford was instrumental in creating the ACC/Big Ten Challenge that began in men's basketball in 1999. Then in 2007, the two conferences hosted the 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 & COMMUNITY 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 15 years as Commissioner, ACC teams have won 58 national team titles and 1,706 ACC teams have participated in various NCAA championships - an average of more than 105 NCAA teams per year.
In the 2011-12 Division I Learfield Sports Directors' Cup Standings, the ACC was one of only three conferences with multiple schools in the Top 10 and one of two leagues with four or more members in the Top 20. This past year marks the 11th consecutive year that the ACC has placed four or more teams in the Top 30.
In football, at least seven ACC teams have earned bowl bids in each of the last six seasons. In 2008, the conference set an NCAA record when 10 of its 12 teams (83%) 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, NC, Swofford was a Morehead Scholar at the University of North Carolina and played on UNC's 1971 ACC Football Championship team. 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.