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Is Jim Phillips’ Optimism Misplaced, or Can the ACC Hold Things Together?

NCAA Football: ACC Kickoff

It’s been public knowledge for some time now that Florida State and Clemson are looking for a way out of the ACC. Amid the ongoing litigation between the Seminoles and Tigers against the ACC, there’s some unrest amongst the other member schools.

But, according to CBS Sports, commissioner Jim Phillips is feeling good about the waters calming eventually.

“I’m always optimistic about a really good ending on a difficult situation,” Phillips said, according to CBS Sports. “I’ll never change until somebody else tells me differently. Am I going to fight and protect the ACC? Absolutely. I have to do that. That’s my responsibility.”


However, the leadership at Florida State doesn’t sound nearly as optimistic about rebuilding a relationship with the league. When FSU athletic director Michael Alford was asked about getting back in good graces with the ACC, he wasn’t as hopeful.

“We’ll just wait for that to play out,” Alford said, “we’ve got to do what’s best for Florida State and look at the changing environment of collegiate athletics and make sure we’re there to be successful.”

If he doesn’t start looking around, though, Phillips might find himself in the same situation that George Kliavkoff did with the Pac-12. It doesn’t appear to be the same head-in-the-sand approach that Kliavkoff took right now, but if other schools start searching for their chance to jump ship, things could get ugly in a hurry.


And with at least one member of the UNC Board of Trustees, that’s exactly what’s happening. Earlier this week, we saw a report from Action Network’s Brett McMurphy that North Carolina trustee Dave Boliek was pushing for the Tar Heels to start looking for an exit plan.

“That’s what we need to do,” Boliek said. “We need to do everything we can to get there, or the alternative is the ACC is going to have to reconstruct itself. I think all options are on the table.”

While conference realignment has drastically altered the conference makeup across the nation, the ACC has remained relatively intact. The league has yet to lose a major contributor like North Carolina, but it did heighten concerns among athletic directors and presidents for some of the teams at the top by adding the likes of SMU, Stanford, and Cal.


Boliek continued, “Carolina’s ability to maintain excellence at a high level is going to require really prudent budgeting, revenue models, and potential cost cutting. A lot of it is due to the revenue—or lack thereof—that we’re not receiving from the ACC deal.”

Phillips seemed to shoot down the notion that there was anything to worry about there.

“Those are campus discussions and campus politics that are going on so I don’t know what’s true and what’s not,” he said. 

Is it misplaced optimism, or is the ACC going to be able to remain strong despite some of the biggest programs in the league looking to leave? Only time will tell, but the precedence set by Kliavkoff and the Pac-12 is an indication that the other schools had better get a plan together.

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