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The Virginian — Pilot (Norfolk, VA.)
AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. — While the ACC exited its spring meetings without any formal recommendations regarding the Rice Commission's report on the future of college basketball, it certainly had something to say about the sport. The conference voted to propose legislation to the NCAA that would expand the tournament from 68 to 72 teams, essentially duplicating the First Four.
ACC commissioner John Swofford said the conference also voted to propose a package of rule changes that included moving back the 3-point line, widening the lane and resetting the shot clock to 20 seconds after an offensive rebound, but passed on the other rules trialed during the NIT that included moving from halves to quarters and changes to fouls and the bonus.
The expansion proposal came from the ACC coaches, who noted the number of football teams that have postseason opportunities compared to basketball.
"The idea of having two First Fours, if you will, maybe geographic," Swofford said. "That's such a quick turnaround. You could have one maybe in Dayton and one in the western part of the states. But we will be proposing that."
Those were the biggest proposals out of the spring meetings after the ACC decided to leave the mechanics of the more epochal changes proposed by the Rice Commission to a set of NCAA working groups that will spend the summer trying to deal with various parts of the commission's mandate by August.
The ACC will also propose football legislation that creates recruiting dead periods in February and July, restricts the spring recruiting period to four out of six weeks from the current six weeks and prohibits verbal offers to prospects before Sept. 1 of their junior year. That's largely fallout from the new December signing period, which the ACC originally proposed and continues to support, Swofford said.
There was also considerable discussion about kickoffs and their role in the future of the sport, but without any consensus on recommendations for the rules committee.
"We talked about how the game is changing, and how we need to preserve the game, but make it safer for the players," North Carolina coach Larry Fedora said. "We get into it, so we get a feel for how everybody feels in the league. You've got 15 guys in the room and not everybody is going to agree with everything, and that's fine, we're OK with that."
Among other topics Swofford discussed Thursday:
n Discussion continues about future ACC tournament sites, with nothing decided beyond 2020. Swofford said he had hoped the conference might have been able to make a decision this week.
"We did have some discussion here and expected to," he said. "I don't think it will be that long before we're able to pull this together. I do think it'll be a rotation of some kind."
n The ACC Network remains on track for its 2019 launch and revenue projections remain stable, especially after ESPN was able to reach a deal for carriage with New York cable provider Altice. More carriage deals will be negotiated as ESPN's current agreements expire.
n The ACC supports the NCAA's position, announced Thursday, calling for federal oversight of legalized sports gambling.
"We're going to have to learn what impact it really has on us," Swofford said.
n There was considerable discussion at all levels — coaches, administrators, faculty representatives — about the NCAA's continuing evaluation of liberalizing the transfer process, albeit without any concrete conclusions.
"I don't think this is going to turn into a free-for-all and a total free market," Swofford said.
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