Welcome to the ACC, Commissioner Jim Phillips

Commissioner Jim Phillips welcome to the Atlantic Coast Conference. The dynamics of a move, the transition from one part of America to another is always interesting for a person and their family. I hope this change is going well.

My hunch is you will welcome a break from Chicago winters. I suspect you will chuckle quite a bit at how we Southerners have panic attacks when snow is forecasted. In that flurry of hysteria, bread and milk producers laugh all the way to the bank.

Additionally, I would advise you not to get tangled up in any in state geographical squabbles about North Carolina barbecue. Here is my advice—forget the barbecue, focus on the peach cobbler with a monster scoop of vanilla ice cream from Homeland Creamery.

Here is some more geographical advice as you learn about the state. Let a North Carolina raised professor of linguistics instruct you on how to properly pronounce— Mebane, Beaufort, and Conetoe.

And while we are focusing on the importance of geography, here is a bit of wisdom about the ACC men’s basketball tournament. This advice comes from Floyd’s Barber Shop just up the road in Mt. Airy— the ACC men’s basketball tournament should only be played in Greensboro, North Carolina—nowhere else.

I’m sure the orientation about the league from ACC staffers has been thorough for you. However, in not wanting to run you off, I suspect the staff or former Commissioner Swofford, have delayed discussing with you the following file—  ACC Security CONFIDENTIAL: The Wacko From Virginia.

Commissioner Phillips, I’m that wacko. 

You see I grew up just a stone’s throw away in Burlington. My affection for basketball and the ACC started in the fourth grade. 

I have a deep respect for the courage and the vision of the leaders from the original schools who founded the conference. As I’m sure you are aware that birthing took place in Greensboro in 1953.

 Well before the concept of branding,  the conference created a highly respected brand. Grounded in that respect was a collective desire to construct a tournament that was unique and durable.

This cherished tournament has served as a model for others across America. Replicating the ACC tournament really isn’t possible. Here are some reasons that come to mind—the quality of the players and coaches, the loyalty of the fans, and most important—the character of the citizens of Greensboro and their leaders. 

I have always struggled with the geographical expansions implemented by the league. In my old brain expanding a league is only about branding and that troublesome green stuff. 

And I think that is why Greensboro is so important to the tournament. Greensboro might not be as alluring as other cities, but Greensboro understands the essentials of hosting and hospitality. 

Greensboro knows the lineage, the heritage, and Greensboro knows that the focus should be on basketball—not a push to expand the brand in cities that really have no relationship with the league.

 My logic might not play well with some, and I understand. But, Greensboro is the pulse, the heart—the city that has helped to frame the success of the tournament. If allowed, I believe Greensboro is positioned to take the tournament deep into the future.

That confidential file about me will probably tell you that I am still a fan of the long gone, but not forgotten Andy Griffith Show. A character from the show Ernest T. Bass occasionally comes into Mayberry from the hills and disrupts the town’s tranquility.  

Now, Ernest T. is long gone, but I need to alert you— his ghost is still around. I’m told his ghost gets mighty riled up when the ACC tournament isn’t played in Greensboro. 

Because of the pandemic, it was a wise move to bring the tournament from Washington back to Greensboro this year. Intelligence reports indicated that Mr. Bass was well prepared to invade the Capital One Arena.

I want you to be successful as commissioner. But, in order to be successful, you do not want to irritate Ernest T.

Veteran security analyst lose sleep trying to figure out how to contain his clever ability to disrupt in any environment. However, there is a simple solution—keep the tournament in Greensboro.

I think Commissioner Swofford knew in his heart that the tournament should be in Greensboro. Heck, four of the original founding schools are located in North Carolina. 

That is an important part of the league’s legacy, and that foundation should be a part of the chapters yet to be written.

 Commissioner Phillips during your tenure, we are going to learn a lot about the leadership in your heart. I hope your heart will come to understand that Greensboro is the logical location for the tournament.


Author’s note:  This piece was submitted to the Greensboro News and Record as an op-ed. To my knowledge, the editors for the paper chose not to take it. I’m sure they have good reasons. However, if you would like to share the piece with ACC fans who believe Greensboro should be the permanent home of the ACC men’s basketball tournament feel free to share it. Be safe, Bill Pike

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