GREENSBORO, NC (theACC.com) – John Swofford, the longest serving commissioner in the 67-year history of the Atlantic Coast Conference, announced today that the 2020-21 sports year will be the last of his 24 years of service. Swofford will continue in the Commissioner’s chair until his successor is installed and will assist with the transition as needed.
As ACC’s fourth commissioner, Swofford guided the league to unprecedented stability, success and growth, expanding from nine to 15 members, beginning with Miami and Virginia Tech in 2004, quickly followed by Boston College and then joined by Pitt, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Louisville
Today’s ACC encompasses the entire east coast, giving it the largest geographic footprint and population of any Autonomy 5 conference. The expansion allowed the league to secure its future through the granting of media rights, the creation of the ACC Football Championship Game, an invaluable partnership with the Orange Bowl, and joining ESPN in August 2019 to establish the ACC network, which provides fans with exceptional access to live events through a comprehensive cross-platform network.
“It has been a privilege to be a part of the ACC for over five decades and my respect and appreciation for those associated with the league throughout its history is immeasurable,” said Swofford. “Being an ACC student athlete, athletic director and commissioner has been an absolute honor. There are immediate challenges facing not only college athletics, but our entire country, and I will continue to do my best to help guide the conference in these unprecedented times for the remainder of my term. Nora and I have been planning this to be my last year for some time and I look forward to enjoying the remarkable friendships and memories that I have been blessed with long after leaving this chair. ”
Swofford’s impact has been felt far beyond the ACC footprint. He played a key role in the evolution of the College Football Playoff, as well as being a leading advocate for NCAA legislation that enables Autonomy 5 conferences to better address the needs of their institutions, sports programs, and student athletes. He was instrumental in kicking off the ACC / Big Ten Challenge, now an early-season staple for both men’s and women’s college basketball, and oversaw the development of the ACC Football Championship Game. During his tenure, he hired the league’s first full-time female basketball administrator, started the ACC Student and Athlete Advisory Committee, and implemented the annual ACC Mental Health and Wellness Summit.
For the past 23 years, ACC has been at the forefront of college athletics, winning 92 national team titles in 19 of the league’s 27 sponsored sports. Beyond athletics, the league continues to set the academic standard by leading all conferences in almost all comparisons.
Kent Syverud, Chancellor of Syracuse University and chairman of the ACC board of directors, praised Commissioner Swofford’s character and service.
“John Swofford, in his historic tenure, has come to embody the best of ACC,” said Syverud. “The Conference has been dramatically improved in every way during the last quarter century, especially in its academic and sporting balance. All 15 Conference Presidents, like their universities, are deeply grateful to John for his transformative leadership. ”
Born in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, where he was the most valuable three-sports player and quarterback in the entire state, Swofford attended the University of North Carolina on a Morehead scholarship as part of the first ever soccer recruiting class. from head coach Bill Dooley. In addition to earning a spot on the ACC Academic Honor Roll as a student athlete, he began as a quarterback as a sophomore and part of his junior year, and then ended his career as a defensive defense for the 1971 ACC Championship team from the UNC. He played in the Peach Bowl as a junior and in the Gator Bowl as a senior.
Swofford received his Master of Science in Athletics Administration from Ohio University. His first job in college athletics came at the University of Virginia, where he worked for future ACC Commissioner Gene Corrigan, before returning to North Carolina.
In 1980, at the age of 31, Swofford was named athletic director at his alma mater. He held that position for 17 years. As athletic director, Swofford teams have won more ACC and NCAA championships than any other athletic director in ACC history, a record that is still held. In 1994 Carolina won the Sears Director’s Cup, awarded for the best overall athletics program in the nation, the only ACC program to win that award.
By the time he became athletic director, North Carolina had not won a national championship in any sport since 1957. The Tar Heels won at least one national title each year from Swofford’s tenure. During his time at Chapel Hill, Carolina’s women’s sports programs rocketed to unprecedented heights, winning 65 ACC and 17 NCAA championships. Swofford also hired six head coaches who won national championships. In 1981, he hired the first black head coach at the ACC.
Swofford is a member of five Halls of Fame: the NACDA Hall of Fame, the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame, the Chick-fil-A Bowl Hall of Fame and Wilkes County Hall of Fame. He has received the Corbett Award, which is the highest administrative honor awarded nationally to a college athletic administrator. Swofford received the Homer Rice Award from the Division 1A Athletic Directors Association and received the Distinguished Student Award from Ohio University. In 2011, he also received one of the Greensboro Father of the Year Awards.
Swofford and his wife, Nora, will continue to reside in Greensboro, North Carolina. Together, they have three children: Autumn and her husband, Sherman Wooden, who have three children, Maya, Lyla, and Lincoln; Chad and his wife, Caitlyn, who have one child, Owen, and another due in September; and Amie and her husband, Mike Caudle, who have two children, Emerson and Colson.
Statement from North Carolina State Chancellor Randy Woodson:
“Commissioner Swofford has guided ACC through many challenges, including expanding and launching the ACC network, thereby positioning the conference for continued success in the future. Our entire league owes much of its success to your steadfast hand and thoughtful leadership. “
Statement by the Chancellor of Syracuse University and Chairman of the ACC Board of Directors Kent Syverud:
“John Swofford, in his historic tenure, has come to embody the best of ACC. The Conference has been dramatically improved in every way during the past quarter century, especially in its balance of academics and athletics. All 15 Conference Presidents, like their universities, are deeply grateful to John for his transformative leadership. ”
Statement by Clemson University President Jim Clements:
“The ACC has been blessed to have John Swofford as its Commissioner for the past 20 years. He is a true gentleman, with unmatched character and integrity. Through its strategic vision and leadership, ACC has seen tremendous growth and incredible success and is extremely well positioned for the future. “
Statement from Wake Forest University President Nathan Hatch:
“John has been an excellent leader for the ACC and for all interscholastic sports. He has been an intelligent leader, with principles and foresight in tumultuous times. I especially value their continued interest in the well-being of student-athletes and their commitment to the proper role of athletics within the broader mission of the modern university. “
Statement by the President of the University of Notre Dame, Rev. John Jenkins:
“For more than twenty years, John Swofford has been instrumental in maintaining ACC’s dual commitment to athletic and academic excellence and has led the conference with integrity. We at Notre Dame are personally grateful to John for facilitating our entry into the conference at 2014, and to maintain the high standards of intercollegiate athletics for which the ACC stands out. “
Statement by Clemson’s Director of Athletics, Dan Radakovich:
John has been the cornerstone of ACC. The years of his tenure have been enormously successful and growing. ACC student athletes, coaches, administrators, and fans have been the beneficiaries of his outstanding leadership. The entire Clemson family wishes John and Nora the best as they begin their next chapter.