ACC Commissioner John Swofford announces retirement

Photo courtesy of ACC – John Swofford


John Swofford is the longest-tenured commissioner in the 67-year history of the Atlantic Coast Conference. He announced Friday that the 2020-21 athletic year will be the last of his 24 years of service. Swofford will continue in the commissioner’s chair until his successor is installed and will assist with the transition as needed. 
As the fourth commissioner of the ACC, Swofford guided the league to unprecedented stability, success and growth, expanding from nine to 15 members beginning with Miami and Virginia Tech in 2004, quickly followed by Boston College and later joined by Pitt, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Louisville.

A number of representatives of various ACC schools quickly responded to the announcement by praising Swofford and his work as commissioner.

NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson said, “Commissioner Swofford has guided the ACC through many challenges including expansion and the launch of ACC Network, thus positioning the conference for continued success well into the future. Our entire league owes so much of its success to his steady hand and thoughtful leadership.”
Syracuse University Chancellor and Chair of the ACC Board of Directors Kent Syverud
had this to say about the retiring commissioner: “John Swofford, in his historic tenure, has come to embody the very best of the ACC. The conference has been dramatically enhanced in every way during the last quarter century, especially in its balance of academics and athletics.  All 15 residents of the conference, like their universities, are deeply grateful to John for his transformative leadership.”
Clemson University President Jim Clements
said, “The ACC has been blessed to have John Swofford as its commissioner for the past 20-plus years. He is a true gentleman, with unparalleled character and integrity. Through his strategic vision and his leadership, the ACC has seen tremendous growth and incredible success and is extremely well-positioned for the future.”
Wake Forest University President Nathan Hatch also released a statement. “John has been a superb leader for the ACC and for all of intercollegiate sports
,” Hatch said. “He has been a savvy, principled, and foresighted leader in tumultuous times. I particularly value his abiding interest in the well-being of student-athletes and his commitment to the proper role of athletics within the larger mission of the modern university.”
Notre Dame President the Rev. John Jenkins
said, ““For over twenty years, John Swofford has been critical in upholding the ACC’s dual commitment to athletic and academic excellence and has led the conference with integrity. We at Notre Dame are personally grateful to John for facilitating our entry into the conference in 2014, and for upholding the high standards of intercollegiate athletics for which the ACC stands.”
Clemson Athletics Director Dan Radakovich issued the following statement:
John has been the bedrock of the ACC. The years of his tenure have seen tremendous success and growth. The student-athletes, coaches, administrators and fans of the ACC have been the beneficiary of his outstanding leadership. The entire Clemson family wish John and Nora the best, as they begin their next chapter.”
University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Patrick Gallagher
said of Swofford, “For the University of Pittsburgh, John’s leadership has been very special. By shepherding Pitt into the ACC during the conference realignment, John gave the University an outstanding home to compete and collaborate within the storied Atlantic Coast Conference. As a new chancellor coming in during this incredible period of collegiate athletics, I am grateful for John’s steady, welcoming support for Pitt. Thank you, John.”
Duke University Vice President
and Director of Athletics Kevin White said, “To be sure, we are deeply indebted to John and Nora for their exemplary service to the Atlantic Coast Conference membership and every constituent that touches the league. John’s leadership and guidance have been truly astounding and his robust impact on student-athletes over two-plus decades cannot be celebrated enough. He has been a pillar of reason, trust and value while encompassing a contagious passion for unrivaled excellence. Over the course of his storied tenure in the ACC office, John’s steadfast determination and vision have led to countless significant accomplishments and achievements, including membership expansion and the creation of the ACC Network. In short, we have been fortunate to work with one of the finest leaders in the history of college athletics.”
From Georgia Tech
, Director of Athletics Todd Stansbury released the following statement: “In addition to our time together in the ACC, John and I share a special bond as we were both student-athletes under the great Homer Rice, who helped shape our visions for intercollegiate athletics. Throughout his 23 years as commissioner of the ACC, John has advanced the values championed by Homer Rice, lifting the league, its member schools and its student-athletes to unprecedented heights athletically, academically and socially. I am proud to share such tight bonds with John, and it has been an honor and a privilege to work with and learn from such an iconic figure in intercollegiate athletics. I wish him and his wife, Nora, nothing but the very best in retirement.”
Pitt Director of Athletics Heather Lyke
said, “The class with which Commissioner Swofford led our conference was beyond reproach. As a member of the ACC, he made us all feel part of the ACC family. John dedicated his career to higher education in the ACC and positively impacted so many people’s lives, including mine. He made all our athletic departments better because of his thoughtful, authentic and servant leadership style.”
Virginia Athletics Director Carla Williams
had this to say of Swofford’s leadership. “John Swofford’s influence and guidance has allowed the ACC to be a leader on the college sports landscape. His compassion and care for this conference and its members has set an incredibly high standard and his forward thinking has helped to position the league for future growth and success. It has been an honor to work with him, and to learn from him, during my time at UVA. I wish John and Nora the best as he finishes his tenure at the ACC and prepares for the next phase of his life.”
Duke Women’s Basketball Head Coach Joanne McCallie
offered her congratulations. “A hearty congratulations to John Swofford for an absolutely amazing career. Your leadership within the ACC has been nothing short of tremendous. You have led us all through many transitions and much growth. All of us at Duke women’s basketball would like to say thank you. We are grateful for all your efforts and we wish the very best to you and your family for a wonderful retirement.”
Duke Men’s Basketball Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski
likewise praised the outgoing commissioner for his dedication and service. “Certainly, John Swofford oversaw and successfully navigated the Atlantic Coast Conference through the most dramatic era of change in its storied history. Since 1997, John worked to represent the best interests of all ACC institutions, now up to 15 after the latest round of expansion, in pursuit of making the league the best version of itself. We wish both John and Nora the very best in retirement and thank him for more than two decades of dedicated service as commissioner of the ACC.”
Duke Football Head Coach David Cutcliffe
released the following statement. “First off, congratulations to both John and Nora on the retirement announcement. For over 20 years, John has guided the ACC through remarkable transformations with the utmost integrity and respect. His pursuit of excellence for the league’s entire membership has been inspirational, and we thank him for his leadership and service.”  
Wake Forest Women’s Basketball Head Coach Jen Hoover
said, “I would like to thank John for his undying love and commitment to the ACC over the past quarter of a century. He set the standards in college athletics. His dedication, knowledge, and experience will be missed not only at Wake Forest and the ACC, but throughout the entire collegiate sports landscape. I wish him and his wife, Nora, all the happiness and joy retirement can bring!”  
North Carolina Football Head Coach Mack Brown
said, “John Swofford’s impact on the ACC has been unbelievable. For countless years and in so many different roles, John has been a guiding force for the league through his contributions at both the institutional and conference level. Sally and I were fortunate to get to know John and his wife Nora during my first tenure at North Carolina and you couldn’t find two better people. John cares deeply about college athletics and the student-athletes and that’s been shown repeatedly during his career. We are better off because John Swofford touched our University and our conference and we wish him nothing but the best as he moves on to the next chapter of his life after this year.”
Miami Men’s Basketball Head Coach Jim Larrañaga joined the chorus of p
raise. “John Swofford has been an instrumental figure in shaping the direction of the Atlantic Coast Conference for the better. His passion, dedication and commitment to the ACC and its member schools have helped make this league the very best in the country. I would like to sincerely thank John for all of his hard work over the past 20-plus years and wish him happiness in his retirement.”
Wake Forest Athletics Director John Currie also spoke highly of the outgoing commissioner.
It’s impossible to overstate the impact of Commissioner Swofford’s incredible leadership of the Atlantic Coast Conference over the last four decades. On a personal level, having grown up in Chapel Hill while he served as UNC’s athletics director, Commissioner Swofford’s integrity, servant-leadership and vision gave me my earliest professional inspiration and example. Throughout my career he has always been willing to listen, guide and encourage me, and I know I am among the hundreds if not thousands of athletics administrators who consider Commissioner Swofford a key mentor. On behalf of Demon Deacon Nation, Mary Lawrence and I wish Nora and him the very best and look forward to future fellowship.”
Orange Bowl CEO Eric Poms
offered his best wishes to Swofford. “On behalf of the Orange Bowl Committee, I want to extend our heartfelt congratulations to Commissioner Swofford on his tremendous career in intercollegiate athletics culminating with his unparalleled tenure leading the Atlantic Coast Conference. So many have benefited from his outstanding leadership including our organization where he was the key force behind our longstanding and invaluable Capital One Orange Bowl partnership. We are eternally grateful to have had the opportunity to work closely with one of the industry’s consummate professionals and more importantly an even better person. Very best wishes for John and Nora as they enter the next chapter of their lives.”

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