Thursday John Swofford announced that the 2020-2021 athletic year would be his last as commissioner of the ACC.
Who might replace him? Back in 2015 @Hokiesmash_ASD wrote a series of articles about who could be the next ACC commissioner.
Some of those candidates like former Louisville AD Tom Jurich are off the table, but let’s take look at who still is viable candidate from the @Hokiesmash_ASD top 5 list.
Michael Kelly (“The Favorite”) – Based on his broad level of experience, Michael Kelly is well-prepared to the the next ACC Commissioner. Kelly is an alumnus of Wake Forest University and, earlier in his career, served as the institution’s Director of Athletic Operations and Facilities. Kelly previously served as Senior Associate Commissioner for the ACC, overseeing broadcasting, communications and football. Kelly has experience with huge sporting events. He served as the lead local executive for three different Super Bowls in three different communities, having been President of the Super Bowl Host Committee in Tampa Bay (Super Bowl XXXV), Jacksonville (Super Bowl XXXIX) and South Florida (Super Bowl XLI). He also served as the Executive Director for the 1999 NCAA Men’s Final Four Local Organizing Committee. Finally, Kelly is now the Chief Operating Officer of the College Football Playoff, which probably the third largest sporting event in our country behind the Super Bowl and March Madness. Kelly, therefore, is not only familiar with the culture of the ACC, but he’s also worked at the highest levels of college sports. He is currently the AD of South Florida.
Michael L. Aresco (“The Television Man”) – Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples recently reported on the increasing revenue gap between the SEC and Big 10 – and the rest of the Power 5 schools. It’s not close. The ACC needs to continue to improve its television revenues. That much is clear. I believe Aresco’s television experience would be invaluable to the ACC (it would be awesome to have someone in that chair with high-level television experience). Aresco was an Executive Vice President of Programming at CBS Sports. Here’s his profile from the AAC website: “Aresco came to the conference from CBS Sports where he was Executive Vice President, Programming. He was responsible for all college sports programming for CBS Sports and CBS Sports Network. Aresco oversaw the acquisition and management of CBS Sports college properties, including the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, regular-season college basketball and football, conference basketball championship games, football bowl games and other programming. His responsibilities included game selection and scheduling, day-to-day operations, contract negotiations, identification of future acquisitions, development of programming strategies and coordination of new media and marketing initiatives. Aresco played an integral role in the landmark deal that created the CBS Sports-Turner Broadcasting partnership, which resulted in the acquisition of the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship rights through 2024. He managed the complex 14-year agreement that provides expanded national broadcast and cable coverage of the NCAA basketball championship. Aresco also was instrumental in the CBS Television Network’s groundbreaking bundled rights agreement with the NCAA, which granted CBS exclusive rights to the NCAA tournament from 2003 through 2010. Aresco also played a key role in negotiating NCAA marketing agreements and in creating a partnership with IMG and the NCAA to assist in acquiring new NCAA corporate sponsors. He also was a significant contributor in the development of new media platforms for the NCAA Championship, including March Madness On Demand, a highly successful streaming platform.”
Tom Jurich (“The Visionary”) – If you picked an athletic director to be the next ACC commissioner (as has been the trend – the last four commissioners were Athletic Directors at ACC institutions), then Jurich is the person you want. This is a guy who has visionary leadership for his institution. Jurich has led Louisville in its transition from Conference USA, to the Big East, and, now the ACC – and has been successful every step of the way (if you can do this – and be successful every step of the way – you are a visionary leader). He knows how to make the big hire bringing in Charlie Strong and Bobby Petrino (twice) as head football coaches – and luring Rick Pitino (!!!!! WHO WAS ONCE AT KENTUCKY !!!!!!) in as head men’s basketball coach (I’m sure that had to drive Kentucky fans crazy lol). Jurich’s Cardinals have the best facilities in the ACC (this guy can raise money) – and are likely going to finish with a top 25 ranking in the Learfield Sports Director’s Cup. @TalkinACCSports (Jeffrey Fann) and I have talked and blogged on several occasions about Louisville’s successful first year in the ACC (we think trading Maryland out worked pretty well).
Brad Traviola, Big 10 Deputy Commissioner – Brad Traviola is the Deputy Commissioner of the Big 10 Conference. His defacto roles include Chief Financial Officer (CFO)/Chief Operating Officer (COO). Traviolia begins serving as Deputy Commissioner in 2006 after holding four positions with the conference over a 10-year span. Traviola joined the Big Ten in 1997 as the Assistant Director of Sports Management and Human Resource Manager and was promoted to Assistant Commissioner in 1999. Following that two-year period, he was elevated to Associate Commissioner in 2001 and has been serving in his most recent role as the conference’s CFO and COO since 2003, handling the day-to-day operations, as well as legal and human resource duties for the office. A graduate of Northwestern, Traviolia was an All-Conference honoree and Big Ten wrestling champion in 1990. Here – you have someone who can step in on day one as the ACC Commissioner, has in-depth knowledge of a conference’s front office operations, and someone who is familiar with the operation of a conference television network (the Big 10 Network has been very successful by all accounts). And Traviola isn’t even 50 yet. Again, another non-ACC candidate – but someone with valuable experience. Many think, though, that he is being groomed for Jim Delaney’s commissioner position – and is the odds on favorite for that job.
Jack Swarbrick (“The Package Deal”) – Jack Swarbrick has some impressive accomplishments at Notre Dame. Swarbrick was a major player in extending Notre Dame’s football contract with NBC Sports through the 2025 football season and in 2014 also helped negotiate a 10-year relationship with Under Armour to provide performance footwear, apparel and equipment for Irish athletic programs. Finally, Swarbrick was somehow able to get Notre Dame a seat at the College Football Playoff table. If Jack Swarbrick is the next ACC Commissioner, we also think that Notre Dame is coming to the conference as a full-time member institution.
Kevin White (“The Old Guard”) – We know about Kevin White’s performance as Duke Director of Athletics (we blogged extensively about that in Part 2 of our series). White has an unquestionable record of excellence not only with the performance of Duke’s Athletic Programs, but also as someone who invests in facilities and is a prolific fundraiser. But there’s something else here, too. Many of the – we’ll call them “Old Guard” ACC schools (e.g. North Carolina, Virginia, North Carolina State, Wake Forest) think that someone from this group should be the next ACC Commissioner – and the votes would only be for someone in the 919 area code.