Wake Forest’s John Currie discusses what’s to come in college athletics amid further realignment | New

JOHN DELL

The ACC sky does not fall.

That’s the message John Currie, the athletic director of Wake Forest, conveyed in a lengthy interview earlier this week about the conference shuffling that’s been going on in college athletics this summer.

Another summer of realignment saw UCLA and USC agree to move from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten, setting off a storm of possible ramifications for the SEC, Pac-12, Big 12 and ACC .

Not so long ago, the Power Five conferences dictated the pecking order in college football. The latest shakeup gives the Big Ten and the SEC a leg up on every other conference.

That doesn’t mean the ACC isn’t in a good position to be that conference’s third big dog.

Currie, who served as athletic director for 13 years and has been at Wake Forest since 2019, has also served as an AD at Kansas State and Tennessee.

Currie, who attended the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics convention in Las Vegas earlier this week, won his award along with the 27 other DAs who were honored for the 2021-22 academic year. The awards are given to DAs from seven divisions (NCAA FBS, FCS, Division I-AAA, II, III, NAIA/Other four-year institutions and Junior College/Community College), with NC State’s Boo Corrigan also taking home the award .

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Here’s what Currie had to say about what’s going on with college athletics.

Q: What was your first reaction when you heard that UCLA and Southern Cal were joining the Big Ten?

A: “I was on a flight home from the convention, and saw it in a tweet. And to be honest, I wasn’t surprised. But this is my 13th summer as Athletic Director and this is the seventh summer that i’ve faced some kind of conference roster issue.It’s been a long time, and the nature of the (TV) contracts, with the Pac-12 and Big 12 expiring soon, i don’t was not surprised.

Q: Where do you see college athletics heading, especially in football?

A: “On the one hand, the experience, opportunity and value of college football for student-athletes has never been greater. Certainty over the past 12 months as we entered the era ( name, image, likeness), we have seen a change in how the model has changed There are some questions, but it is still part of higher education in the United States and for those who choose to play football university at the highest level, these are all important things. I don’t know how all this will turn out, but there is another stage of evolution that we are living.

Q: Where does ACC go from here? There have been so many storylines and speculations about the sequel.

A: “I think the ACC is in a really good position. There’s news with both schools leaving the Pac-12, but the ACC has a lot of strategic advantages that benefit us right now. We have this great opportunity under the leadership of our commissioner, Jim Phillips, and our board of directors, and I just think it’s a great opportunity.

Q: I understand that the 15 DAs of the ACC meet regularly to discuss a wide range of conference matters. What was the conclusion of the latest news on the realignment?

A: “We meet regularly, as does the board, so communication has continued. We had a good dialogue. …Throughout the history of our conference (which began in 1953) – and certainly of Wake Forest – there have always been times when the sky fell and everything would crumble. But we’re in a great position as a conference, and each time the ACC has been able to get stronger. And where we sit with the ACC network and where it sits and with everything else, we have a dynamic commissioner with strong values ​​who has a big vision. We also have a strong commitment to each other and we want to continue to develop it. »

Q: The rights grant contract that all ACC members are subject to stipulates that schools leaving before 2036 will have a buyout of $100 million or more to leave. This is a clear advantage for the conference as it tries to stay united and possibly expand.

A: “That’s a big part of it all. That’s part of what gives us a great opportunity as this all evolves. The fact that it’s going to be 14 years before the rights grant expires, that’s us gives a big advantage our schools (which include Notre Dame with the exception of football) came together and chose to do this, and it happened because it’s a strong conference and we’re in a very populated area here on the east coast. There are a lot of positive variables coming together. And we have seen many of our schools increase their level of investment in football, including Wake Forest. … When we read articles about the disappearance of ACC are people throwing stuff up in the air without caring about the real facts in the environment.

Q: A report from Sports Illustrated says the ACC and Pac-12 are in talks with ESPN to strike a TV deal that could bring the two conferences together to combat what the Big 10 and SEC have been doing. What do you think of this possibility?

A: “I would not comment on what we can or cannot do as a conference. What I will say is that I trust our commissioner, and he has been great working with chancellors, presidents and sporting directors on strategy. And, again, the ACC has a huge advantage. We have a lot of great schools and ACC has the best academic conference in the country, and that’s important.

Q: Are you worried about Wake Forest, which has one of the smallest Power Five enrollment and alumni bases, getting squeezed out?

A: “I’m not worried at all. Going back to 1953 and all those times Wake was going to get ousted. Now here we are in 2022 with the best football program in the state that had 11 wins last year and we have incredible facilities. We have as many facilities on campus as anyone in the country.

Q: How do you continue to keep Wake Forest in the conversation? Is it about consistency in every program or does it not matter at this point because college athletics is apparently heading for two mega conferences?

A: “The Atlantic Coast Conference is one of the elite conferences in the country. Granted, the Big Ten and the SEC have established dominant positions from a financial standpoint, but there are plenty of ways to win ball games other than spending more money than everyone else. If it was all about the money, the same teams would win every year. And there are certainly dominant schools in college athletics, but when you look at the ACC, I think there’s only three or four schools in the length of the championship game that didn’t participate in this game. It’s a pretty good balance.

Q: I’m sure you’ve had questions from coaches, alumni and probably Wake Forest staff about all of this. Do you have a standard answer, or is “fluid” the best word to describe the future?

A: “What I would say is be very careful with speculation on the internet about this and that. A lot of it is based on guesswork, inaccuracies and just plain wrong facts. It’s a lot more complicated than pulling out a map and coloring it based on the location of the schools I’m pretty numb to that because I’ve been dealing with this for so long since the years in the Big 12 and when I was at Tennessee. It’s kind of like a coaching search because it’s a great theater to speculate about and play this Stratego board game. It’s not Stratego, and it’s not a game fantastic. There are so many assumptions being made that just aren’t true.

“So I would like to warn people not to get carried away with some of this doomsday proclamation that this school is going to go here and this school is going to go there. We have a great league with great commitment and a great partner with ESPN and we will continue to grow as a conference to provide our student-athletes with the best experience there. And I will say that our goal is to prepare for our opening night (Thursday) against VMI on September 1st.

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