GREENSBORO, N.C. — While he stopped short of embracing a proposal put forth by the Southeastern Conference, whose football and basketball coaches unanimously voted recently to pay players stipends of up to $4,000 per year, Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford said his league was aware of the issue of “trying to enhance the financial well-being’’ of scholarship athletes.
“We’ve been talking about this nationally for several years now without finding something that works,’’ Swofford said Sunday during opening remarks at the ACC Football Kickoff at the Grandover Resort and Conference Center.
“It’s very difficult to look at it in terms of a sport — or two sports — just from a legal standpoint with Title IX, and what’s appropriate and what’s legal and what’s moral and how you address that,’’ Swofford said. “Should it be based just on need? A lot people have been supportive of enhancing a scholarship if it’s just based on need.’’
Swofford offered the suggestion of financial enhancements to a scholarship based on the full cost of attendance as one possible option.
“I’m not for paying players,’’ Swofford said. “I don’t think that’s what college athletics is about. But I am for looking — very diligently — at ways to enhance the scholarship itself, whether it’s need-based, or whether it’s a simple stipend, or some other way to approach it such as going to the full cost of attendance.
“But you’ve got to be able to find something that enough people can accept and support in order to move it forward. So far we have not been able to do that.’’
The ACC welcomed two additions to the conference with Big East refugees Syracuse and Pittsburgh coming aboard for the 2013 season. The Orange will compete in the Atlantic Division along with Boston College and will open conference play by hosting Clemson Oct. 5 followed by its first league road game at North Carolina State Oct. 12.
The Panthers, who will play in the Coastal Division, play their ACC opener at Duke Sept. 21 before hosting Virginia Sept. 28 in the conference home opener.
“Each evolvement in our expansion efforts have really turned out well,’’ Swofford said. “Some have had some pain getting there, more recently not so much.’’
Swofford alluded to the painfully protracted process Boston College went through to join the league in 2005.
“At the beginning there was more controversy, more outside interferences, if you will, that impacted the decisions, but they ended up being really good decisions,’’ Swofford said. “I think that whole process with Virginia Tech and Miami coming in first and then Boston College the following year to take us to 12. At the time, I could tell you we didn’t have any great anticipation about becoming a 14-team league.
“But I think we are as strong as we’ve ever been as a conference and tremendously well positioned, not only for the short-term future, but the long-term future.’’
The only lingering concern, it seemed, was the sanctions awaiting Miami’s football program. Swofford accompanied school officials for the NCAA Infractions hearing this summer in Indianapolis.
“What I took away from it that I can share with you is that I thought the University of Miami and its personnel and leadership handled it extraordinarily well,’’ Swofford said. “I would hope that whatever is coming from the NCAA would come before the season starts. I’d be very disappointed if that’s not the case.’’
Irish being eyed
While the ACC will lose Maryland, which is departing for the Big Ten after this season, the league will fill the vacancy by adding Louisville next season. But a potentially larger addition could loom in Notre Dame, which joined the league as a full member in all sports except football.
While Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski and South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier, who led the Blue Devils to a share of the ACC title in 1989, openly criticized the ACC’s decision to invite Notre Dame on its terms, Swofford responded by saying, “I think bringing Notre Dame in was the right thing to do at this point in time.’’
Swofford indicated Notre Dame’s agreement to play five ACC teams a season in football was vital to its inclusion in the league.
“If they do ever decide they’re going to join a conference in football, through the 2026-27 year, that conference by contractual agreement will be the Atlantic Coast Conference,’’ Swofford said.
Learning from Logan
Former East Carolina coach Steve Logan, who served as an offensive coordinator at BC under former head coach Jeff Jagodzinski, was spotted on radio row working for a Raleigh (N.C.) station. He was not among the five coordinators BC quarterback Chase Rettig has had in his last 3½ seasons in Chestnut Hill. “Actually, him and Coach [Doug] Martin, my last offensive coordinator, coached at ECU together,’’ Rettig said. “His offense is kind of an extension of Steve’s, so I got to learn some of the terminology and some of the concepts he wanted to use and, obviously, they were really successful at BC.’’ . . . Miami quarterback Stephen Morris, who worked as a counselor at Peyton Manning’s Passing Camp, was unaware of the controversy surrounding Johnny Manziel’s departure until after it was reported the Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M had been asked to leave the camp. “It really wasn’t the talk of the camp during camp,’’ said Morris. “The only time it even became a big deal was after the camp when the media found out.’’ Manziel’s dismissal overshadowed Morris’s victory in the camp’s skills competition. “Well, there’s a difference when you win the Heisman vs. when you’ve just won a skills competition,’’ Morris said. Asked about the NCAA sanctions Miami is facing, which could in effect make the season finale at Pittsburgh the Hurricanes’ “bowl game”, Morris shuddered. “It hurt not to play in a bowl game last year,’’ Morris said. “Our biggest concern is to just focus on the little things. I’m a big advocate of that.’’
Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.