The earth shudders and the ACC moves to Charlotte

Bill Pike Guest columnist Greensboro News and Record Sunday, September 25, 2022

I wonder whether the U.S. Geological Survey detected any shifting of tectonic plates under the soil of the Piedmont of Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina when the Atlantic Coast Conference announced it was moving the league’s headquarters from Greensboro to Charlotte.

If any tremors were recorded, perhaps it was from the original founders of the ACC rolling in their graves.

Congratulations, Charlotte. You’re not Greensboro, but a million times better than Orlando.
To ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips, congratulations too. You did something no previous commissioner of the ACC has done — thrust a dagger into the heart of a city and community that has been loyal to the league since 1953.

Honestly, I don’t know why I’m taking this so hard. I’m not a graduate of an ACC school. And, I’m no longer a diehard fan who follows the league like Deputy Fife rabidly searching for Otis Campbell’s moonshine supplier.

However, I do have a heart — a heart full of memories. As a kid growing up in Burlington, I followed the ACC faithfully. Whether by radio or television, I spent many Saturday afternoons listening to and watching teams from the league compete in football and basketball. I remember the names of the players and coaches, and the voices of the announcers who called the games.

The league was compact then, eight teams. Primarily through men’s basketball, those teams built a foundation that would propel the ACC into the future and into the national spotlight. During those formative years, expansion was a speck on the horizon.

When the league initially expanded, the new members made sense geographically. Geography doesn’t matter anymore. It’s all about the pennies, lots and lots of pennies, and power.

Pennies from municipalities, legislatures, sport networks and alumni who in a blink can buyout the contract of a non-winning coach.

But, there are also power plays involved; particularly with sport networks that broadcast the games. Their lucrative contracts with athletic conferences for broadcast rights are too tempting to turn down.

I like the fact that Greensboro leaders put together a package of incentives that made the decision to leave difficult for Commissioner Phillips and his team. Said Mayor Nancy Vaughan: “I also feel like we put together an excellent package, which is one reason it took them 14 months to make a decision.”

Another whine from the league was Greensboro’s airport. Listen, the Piedmont Triad International Airport is well-maintained and properly run. Yes, it might take you longer to make a connection to get to Greensboro, but you can get there.

In truth, I’m disappointed in what appears to be an absence of support for Greensboro from the founding schools of the conference.

With historic Cameron Indoor Stadium on his campus, a person might think that Duke University President Vince Price, would advocate for Greensboro’s legacy of tradition, support and loyalty to the conference.

Not the case. Price’s comments centered on Charlotte as “a lively sports town” and the opportunity to bring “two incredible brands,” Charlotte and the ACC, together.

Boston, Atlanta and Miami are lively sports cities, but I don’t sense their ACC conference schools are significantly marketing the league’s brand. Greensboro did.

Yes, I’m disappointed, but not surprised.

This move to Charlotte is one more example of America valuing power and money more than the cherished legacy of loyalty and support that Greensboro has given to the ACC for 69 years.

Author’s note: This post is courtesy of the Greensboro News and Record. Here is a link to the piece in the paper:

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