Orange Watch: New ACC leadership has distinct Syracuse Orange flavor

ACC Commissioner John Swofford. AP Photo.

Item: John Swofford’s recent announcement that he is retiring as ACC Commissioner at the conclusion of the 2020-21 academic year provides a unique opportunity for the 67-year old, Southern-legacy league to make a statement.  The newly configured ACC Board of Directors, the 15 university president/chancellors, led in the initial year by Syracuse’s own Kent Syverud who was named Chair of the Board, will be spotlighted over the next several months as it undergoes the task of hiring the best qualified candidate to become the fifth commissioner in conference history.

Two predictions about the next ACC commissioner: The individual will come from a current position at an ACC institution (and not the ACC office), and the hire will have a personal and/or professional Southern cultural background.  

Here’s a look at the first half of of each ACC school’s athletic director (in alphabetical order), and thoughts on who might succeed John Swofford, with the second half to be released tomorrow:

Boston College – In a glimpse of athletic director musical chairs, new AD Patrick Kraft is just arriving from Temple, succeeding Martin Jarmond who replaced the retiring Dan Guerrero at UCLA.  (Longtime Penn/Temple basketball coach Fran Dunphy is the interim AD at Temple.)

Clemson – We think one of the favorites for the position among current ACC ADs is the Tigers Dan Radakovich, who’s done a herculean job in just under eight years in which the Tigers have played for the football national championship five times.  We witnessed Radakovich introducing himself to Jim Boeheim in the Dome press box prior to the 2013 SU-CU football game.

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Duke – An athletic director since 1982 (Loras College) with stops at Maine, Tulane, Arizona State and Notre Dame, Kevin White’s record speaks for itself.  At Duke he’s been with Mike Krzyzsewski for two titles, and football has played in six bowl games, winning three-straight.  We see White, who turns age 70 in September, eventually retiring at Duke.   

Florida State – Can there be anybody whom embodies Florida State University more than David Coburn?  He’s a triple graduate of the school, served two FSU presidents dutifully and when asked to take over athletics in the summer of 2018 after Jimbo Fisher departed, stepped right in without missing a beat, overseeing a resurgence in basketball under Leonard Hamilton.  

Georgia Tech = After an immediate post-college career in fiancé and communications, Yellow Jacket alum Todd Stansbury moved quickly through athletic administration ranks highlighted by serving as Oregon State AD before returning to Atlanta in 2016.  He has focused on facilities and branding upgrades in the competitive marketplace of Southeastern college football.  

Louisville – Louisville fans (mostly) approved of longtime AD Tom Jurich, a 20-year legend before being abruptly fired in Oct. 2017 as part of the adidas pay-to-play investigation that dismantled Rick Pitino’s program.  Vince Tyra replaced Jurich the following spring leaving a finance career, and has the football program on track with his hiring of Scott Satterfield prior to last season.  

Miami – Like his colleague White at Duke, Blake James also served as Maine athletic director in his career, before returning to Miami where he previously had several stints building his administrative career.  Leading UM for seven seasons, James is striving for consistency with the football program in the ACC Coastal.  

North Carolina – We find it highly unlikely the ACC board of directors would select another Tar Heel as the next commissioner following Swofford, who served his alma mater from 1980-1997 before stepping up to run the conference.  That takes nothing away from Bubba Cunningham’s lengthy and worthy professional accomplishments in almost a decade in Chapel Hill.  

Check in tomorrow for more thoughts on the second half of the ACC (including Syracuse).

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About Brad Bierman 848 Articles
Now in his sixth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.