Jim Phillips says the Atlantic Coast Conference will not stand second fiddle to anyone under his watch as its new commissioner, including winning and competing for championships.
“This is as good of a conference as there is, so we want to continue to do that,” Phillips said as a guest on the Packer & Durham Show Tuesday morning on the ACC Network.
Phillips, who has long been a champion of student-athletes’ rights as an administrator and athletic director, said the collegiate model is under siege right now.
“This is a very important time for us to make sure that we don’t lose what the collegiate model has been like,” he said. “Besides the GI Bill, there is not a group in the country that has benefited more from aid than student-athletes have. We are over $3.2 billion that we provide student athletes across the country. That is worth saving. This is amateur sports to some people, not amateur sports (to others), but this is different than professional sports. So, I think we have to find whatever place that looks like and give student-athletes a choice.”
Phillips will assume the role of ACC Commissioner in February 2021, replacing John Swofford, who will retire after 25 years as the conference’s commissioner. Swofford announced his retirement in July.
The new commissioner comes to the ACC from Northwestern University, where Phillips in the last 13 years made Northwestern Athletics relevant in a Chicago market that is dominated by professional sports. The ACC, of course, has more major markets with professional sports teams than any conference in the country.
“I think just the experience of being in the SEC, the Pac 12 and Big Ten and being at Notre Dame,” he said. “Listen, the ACC was founded with eight schools in the 1950s, right? And two have decided to leave. We added Georgia Tech in the 70s and Florida State in the 90s and seven schools from early 2000s on. So now our footprint is much broader.
“So, we have to make sure all fifteen institutions are fully integrated into the conference… Being here in Chicago and at Northwestern, this is a pro city. Not unlike Boston, Pittsburgh and Miami and a lot of those types of examples that we have in the ACC. So, for us to have that is going to be really important… There is great calibration. There is great synergy amongst the schools, and everybody is looking forward to an even brighter future.”
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