New ACC Commissioner tackles COVID protocols, ACC Network distribution in first ACC Kickoff
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WCTV) - For the first time in decades, a face other than John Swofford welcomed the media to ACC Kickoff, as Jim Phillips begins is first football season as Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner.
Wednesday, he answered plenty of hot-button questions.
Among the biggest issues raised was COVID-19 protocol for the upcoming season, with over half of the ACC above an 85% vaccination threshold. Phillips says the league will continue to leave any guidelines or vaccine mandates up to the schools.
However, unlike SEC head man Greg Sankey, Phillips was not willing to say a team would have to forfeit a game lost to COVID yet, wanting to wait and see how the latest surge trends.
“We all really wanted to wait a couple more weeks or so, I think there’s some more information we’re going to be able to gather,” Phillips said. “I think we’ll be able to understand the variant a little bit. It’s really the recommendation of our medical group and our ADs.”
The inescapable topic of name, image and likeness was also broached by Phillips, who is in favor of the decisions made by the NCAA, including calls by NCAA President Dr. Mark Emmert to rethink the organization.
However, Phillips is hoping for action at the national level to even the NIL playing field.
“You can see within our 15 schools and our 10 states, there’s an unevenness to what our student athletes can do, so I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes, we need federal help and I think that we’ll get it but I hope it’s sooner rather than later,” he said.
Finally, Phillips was asked about the true elephant in the room for the ACC: Media distribution. Specifically, large cable providers, like Comcast, not carrying the ACC Network.
While Phillips was short on detail, he says the move is high on his list of priorities.
“The frustrations are real, and we’ll never be the conference that we need to be until we get some of those issues taken care of so I think we have a great strategy I think it’s been top of point every meeting that we’ve had with our TV partners they understand it, they get it and so we’re hopeful to make a big dent in the distribution piece coming up.”
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