Chansky’s Notebook: What’s The Number?

The most important numbers were missing in the new ACC TV deal.


The ACC needed to make a big splash with its TV rights, given the 40-plus million per school the BIG 10, SEC and Pac-12 are about to distribute each year. At last calculation, the ACC schools were getting annual checks for about $25 million each, which drives athletic directors and coaches crazy because they wind up further behind in the athletics arms race, coaching salaries and recruiting budgets, not to mention fewer Olympic Sports on TV.

ACC Commissioner John Swofford could not afford to say at this year’s football media confab that it was still status quo with TV — that the conference and ESPN continue planning an exclusive ACC Network but details are yet to come. Instead, the large numbers Swofford rolled out were how many years the ACC and ESPN would now be in bed together – through 2036 when Swofford will be 88 years old. They talked about some kind of 24-hour ACC Network that ESPN would produce starting in 2019, but never quite distinguished between cable TV, linear distribution and digital streaming, since no one really knows the viewers’ format of choice by then.

Perhaps the most important number was extension of grant of rights by each ACC school, meaning if Clemson or Florida State decided to bolt for the SEC, their TV rights would remain with the ACC. Exactly how that would work is also ambiguous, since when Maryland left for the Big 10 there were lawsuits and counter suits that resulted in a settlement.

The big number we are all still waiting for from the ACC is, when all of these new networks and alliances wash out, just how much more per school will be distributed. That is the eight-figure digit the ADs and business managers need to put down on the revenue side of their annual budgets. And all the ACC could say was the split and distributions would be increased, but by how much is still anyone’s guess. And a guess is far from a guarantee, which the BIG 10, SEC and Pac-12 already have through their own established TV networks.

ACC Network Now Official

The long-awaited ACC Network is coming to a television near you in three years and your streaming device much sooner.

The announcement was made official Thursday morning at the Atlantic Coast Conference Kickoff media event being held in Charlotte.

ACC Commissioner John Swofford and ESPN President John Skipper – both UNC graduates – announced the 20-year partnership with the conference the cable-sports giant.

As part of the agreement, more than 600 exclusive live events from across the conference will be made available via a digital live-events channel – “ACC Network Extra” – beginning this August.

A television channel would then launch under the ESPN umbrella in 2019. That network would be home to “450 exclusive live events, including 40 regular-season football games, more than 150 men’s and women’s basketball games, more than 200 other regular-season contests and tournament games from across the conference’s 27-sponsored events,” according to a release. Officials say the network will also include a “component of news and information shows and original programming.”

ESPN President John Skipper:

“We look forward to working with our longtime partners at the ACC to create a network that reflects the depth and quality of its athletes and teams, and serves the fans who passionately support them. We are proud and excited to add the ACC Network to our industry-leading college content offerings.”

ACC Commissioner John Swofford:

“On behalf of the ACC Council of Presidents, Faculty Athletics Representatives and our ACC Television Committee, we are tremendously pleased to further enhance our long-term partnership with ESPN that includes the creation of the ACC Network and ACC Network Extra, and positions the conference for the long-term future. This partnership continues to be a win-win for ESPN and the ACC. ESPN is the premier provider in sports content and this agreement will deliver unprecedented coverage to our fans, while highlighting our quality student-athletes, coaches and institutions.”

UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham:

“ESPN is the leader in the distribution of live sports broadcasting and our league’s partnership with the network has been strengthened.  The agreement today extends our rights with ESPN and ensures Carolina’s athletic programs will receive a tremendous amount of exposure across a variety of network platforms for many years to come.  With this agreement, Carolina and the ACC are well positioned for future coverage of our outstanding teams and their successes.”

UNC head football coach Larry Fedora:

“The addition of the ACC Network strengthens our brand and provides another platform to showcase all of our outstanding teams at North Carolina.  ESPN has been a great partner with the ACC for many years and a stand-alone channel demonstrates the network’s continued dedication to our conference.”

ACC Network Announcement Expected at ACC Media Days

Thursday will bring the unofficial beginning of the 2016 football season with the convening of the Atlantic Coast Conference Media Days.

Representatives from all of the ACC members will migrate to Charlotte for the 45th Annual ACC Football Kickoff.

UNC will be represented in the Queen City by coach Larry Fedora, senior wide receiver Ryan Switzer and senior cornerback Des Lawrence.

The media members will also make selections for preseason awards and project the order in which teams will finish in each division as part of the pomp of the gathering.

The biggest news is expected right off the bat early Thursday morning when ACC Commissioner John Swofford is set to deliver his Commissioner’s address. After years of speculation regarding the ACC Network launching with ESPN in some way or another, representatives from the cable sports giant are set to join Swofford at 10 o’clock Thursday morning for an announcement.

The News & Observer reported earlier in the week that the conference and ESPN were closing in on a deal to launch a digital network for 2016 and an ACC cable channel in 2019 as part of a newly negotiated television deal.

The Commissioner’s address is set for 10 o’clock Thursday morning.

Record Number of Tar Heels Make ACC Academic Honor Roll

A record number of UNC students have been named to the 2015-16 Atlantic Coast Conference Academic Honor Roll, the university announced.

From Carolina, 356 student-athletes – including the above-pictured Marcus Paige – were named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll that recognizes student athletes who participated in a varsity-level sport and achieved a 3.0 grade point average or better.

This year’s total of 4,367 student-athletes was a record for the ACC. UNC’s previous high was 347 Tar Heels in 2013-14.

For the complete Academic Honor Roll, click here.

Chansky’s Notebook: ACC 4th In Money Race

The ACC is making more than ever but still not enough.

Today’s column on the Warriors winning another NBA championship has been postponed because LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, with 41 points apiece, were both money for the Cleveland Cavaliers. So, while we wait for Game Six Thursday, let’s talk about some real money – what the ACC made in the 2014-15 fiscal year.

According to tax returns, the ACC made more than $400 million last year, the highest in its history, and distributed more than $26 million each to its 14 full member schools. That’s the good news. The bad news is the ACC was fourth among the so-called Power Five conferences, ahead of only the 10-school Big 12. The SEC, Big Ten and Pac 12 all made more money and dispersed more per school than the ACC, about $8 million more. And it would have been closer to $10 million had the ACC not received a one-time payment of $32 million from Maryland, when it bolted to the Big Ten.

Now, all this seems like Monopoly money, but it’s still a serious handicap when ACC members are forced to operate with significantly less revenue than the SEC, Big Ten and Pac 12 schools, which all have their own cable television networks while the ACC is still trying to figure out how to get more money and exposure from its ESPN contract that runs another 10 years. Olympic sports are paying the price.

What does 10 million more dollars buy you today? Higher salaries for coaches, bigger recruiting budgets, more elaborate and efficient team travel arrangements and maybe some capital improvements for Olympic sports programs. And the TV networks of the SEC, Big Ten and Pac 12 do something else besides produce more money. They put their teams on the tube more than the ACC.

UNC’s Olympic sports are amazing, when you consider Tar Heel teams are perennial contenders for national titles, like the two won in lacrosse this year. They recruit against schools from other leagues whose teams play more times on TV. That is a considerable recruiting DIS-advantage that no one thought about when all these plans were being made. But it’s real and why the ACC’s 400 million still isn’t enough.

Watts, Walker Honored by ACC Ahead of Tournament Tipoff Wednesday

Members of the North Carolina women’s basketball team have been honored by the Atlantic Coast Conference ahead of the conference tournament beginning on Wednesday.

UNC guard Stephanie Watts was selected as the ACC Freshman of the Year, the league announced on Wednesday.

Watts won ACC Rookie of the Week honors four times over the course of the season, more than any other first-year players, and finished at No. 10 in the conference scoring list, averaging 14.5 points per game. The Wesley Chapel native also checks in among the conference’s leaders with 1.3 blocks per game. Watts led the Tar Heels in scoring 11 times, including posting a career-high 30 points versus NC State on February 21.

Watts was also named to the All-ACC second team, on Tuesday. Watts and teammate Destinee Walker both earned selections to the conference’s All-Freshman team.

Walker, from Orlando, Florida, scored in double figures 27 times during the season – the most among ACC freshman – and averaged 14 points per game.

Walker, Watts and the rest of the Tar Heels will be in action on Wednesday in the ACC Tournament matching up against Pittsburgh.

Tipoff is scheduled for one o’clock. The game can be heard live on 97.9 FM/1360 AM WCHL.

ACC Remembers Vicious Rasheed Wallace Dunk Against Duke

In case you needed a reminder, the biggest rivalry in college basketball – which many in this area would argue is the biggest rivalry in sports, period – will be rekindled on Wednesday when the Duke Blue Devils travel to Chapel Hill to take on the North Carolina Tar Heels, assuming there’s no inclement weather.

This game makes everyone feel a bit nostalgic, even those with the Atlantic Coast Conference Digital Network.

The ACCDN shared a video on Monday of a now-famous Rasheed Wallace dunk from the March, 1994, matchup between the Tar Heels and the Blue Devils in Durham.

UNC went on to win that game against Duke 87-77.

The Tar Heels are coming off of an 85-64 victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday, while the Blue Devils knocked off Virginia, in Cameron Indoor Stadium, on a last-second shot from Grayson Allen on Saturday.

The next chapter in the rivalry is set for nine o’clock Wednesday night in Chapel Hill. WCHL’s coverage will begin at seven o’clock with the UNC Health Care Countdown to Tipoff.

UNC Soccer Star Named ACC Men’s Soccer Scholar-Athlete of the Year

UNC senior defender Jonathan Campbell has been named the 2015 Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Soccer Scholar-Athlete of the Year, the conference announced Tuesday.

Campbell started all 20 games for the Tar Heels in 2015 and scored one goal and accumulated four assists from his defense position.

Campbell was selected with the number 12 pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft by the Chicago Fire.

Campbell earned All-America honors for his play and for his performance in the classroom during his senior campaign for the Tar Heels.

This marked the fourth time Campbell, who graduated in December, was named to the All-ACC Academic Team. He is the only member of the team to receive the honor four times.

Carolina sophomore David October and freshman Alex Comsia were also named to Academic All-Conference team. It was the first selection for both.

James Worthy Named ACC Legend

Former UNC star forward James Worthy has been named to this year’s class of ACC Basketball Legends.

Worthy, along with 13 others will receive their honor during the ACC Tournament March 8-12 in Washington, D.C.

Worthy was the 1982 National Player of the Year and led the Tar Heels to a NCAA title, the first under Dean Smith.

He was a two-time All-American and was the first overall pick in the 1982 NBA Draft.

His winning and dominant play continued at the professional level. Worthy was part of three NBA championship teams and was a seven-time All-Star.

The number 52 was retired at UNC, and he was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2003.

The legends will be features at the Legends Luncheon, on Friday March 11. See the ACC’s website for more details.

The 2016 ACC Legends Class:

Jim Hooley, Forward, Boston College

Grayson Marshall, Guard, Clemson

Jason Willams, Guard, Duke

Rowland Garrett, Forward, Florida State

BJ Elder, Guard, Georgia Tech

Darrell Griffith, Guard, Louisville

John Salmons, Forward, Miami

James Worthy, Forward, North Carolina

Anthony “Spud” Webb, Guard, NC State

Adrian Dantley, Forward, Notre Dame

Charles Smith, Forward, Pitt

Derrick Coleman, Forward, Syracuse

Norman Nolan, Forward, Virginia

Howard Pardue, Forward, Virginia Tech

Dave Odom, Head Coach, Wake Forest

Chansky’s Notebook: Best ACC Title Game Ever

The 2015 ACC football champion? Hang on, I’ll tell you.

A few things you may not know, or have forgotten, about the ACC Championship game, which will be played for the 11th time Saturday night, the 6th straight in Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium, the best home for the battle between Atlantic and Coastal Division winners.

Florida State and Virginia Tech have each been in the game five times, facing each other only twice. The Seminoles have won four of their five appearances, but missed the game for five out of six years between 2006 and 2011. They have won the last three ACC titles, edging Georgia Tech twice and blowing out Duke in between. Virginia Tech earned three championships in its five trips.

Georgia Tech is next with four appearances, winning only once. Clemson has been there just twice before Saturday night, winning one and losing one. Boston College lost its two straight visits back in 2007 and ’08. Wake Forest went once and won once. Duke went once and lost once.

There has never been a true sellout for the game, whether in Jacksonville, Tampa or Charlotte. That all ends tomorrow night, when 100,000 tickets could have been sold to see the Tigers take on the Tar Heels, both unbeaten in ACC play this season and easily the best ACC championship matchup ever. Top-ranked and 12-0 Clemson is a five-point favorite, but 11-1 UNC probably like those odds.

Marquise Williams lets one fly

Marquise Williams lets one fly. Photo via Smith Cameron Photography

Clemson has the best quarterback in DeShaun Watson, undoubtedly ACC Player of the Year and Heisman Trophy hopeful, but don’t tell that to Carolina fans; they love their Marquise Williams who has been even better than Watson the last half of the season. Dabo Swinney edged Larry Fedora for ACC Coach of the Year by six votes, and if they Tar Heels win their first trip to the title game their fans will call for a recount.

UNC has multiple weapons and a slight edge in offensive statistics, Clemson is better on defense and probably the best the Tar Heels have faced this season. If Clemson wins, the Tigers take the top seed into the college football Final Four. If Carolina wins, well, the committee has a mess on its hands. But a conference champion will likely get the nod over higher ranked Ohio State, which did not make the Big Ten title game.

It should be a night to remember, whether watching in person or on ESPN. The winner? On paper, you have to say Clemson, but that’s not where the game is played. That’s why I like the Tar Heels to shock the world. Don’t turn the ball over, guys, and bring home the hardware.