Swofford: ACC Not Rushing into Football Decision

Brett Friedlander

In contrast to the Big Ten, which announced Thursday that it will play a conference-only football schedule this fall, the ACC is taking a more patient approach in response to the worsening coronavirus pandemic.

Commissioner John Swofford issued a statement on Friday saying that the league's board of directors plans to take its time in examining all available options before coming to a decision on how -- or if -- the 2020 football season will proceed.

"As we continue to work on the best possible path forward for the return of competition, we will do so in a way that appropriately coincides with our universities’ academic missions," Swofford said in the statement, which emphasized that any decision will first and foremost take into account the health and safety of athletes, coaches and administrators involved.

"Over the last few months, our conference has prepared numerous scenarios related to the fall athletics season. The league membership and our medical advisory group will make every effort to be as prepared as possible during these unprecedented times, and we anticipate a decision by our Board of Directors in late July.”

Although Phase 2 of the NCAA's re-start plan is scheduled to go into effect next week, allowing football players up to eight hours a week of weight training, conditioning and film study under coaching supervision, there is still time before a decision has to be made.

Under the six-week preseason plan approved by the NCAA last month, actual training camps can't begin until Aug. 7.

Among the many factors the ACC must take into consideration before making a decision about how its football season will be conducted is its relationship with Notre Dame.

The Fighting Irish has an arangement with the league to play six games against ACC opponents per year, making it all but impossible to follow the Big Ten's model of a conference-only schedule.

There is also the issue of season-ending rivalry games. Four ACC schools -- Clemson (against South Carolina), Georgia Tech (against Georgia), Florida State (against Florida) and Louisville (against Kentucky) annually play an SEC opponent to finish out their regular season schedules.

As such, it is unlikely that the ACC will come to any final decisions as to its 2020 football format until the SEC does first, especially since published reports suggest that SEC schools have voiced a reluctance to give up those rivalry games.

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