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Teel Time: Turnover among ACC athletic directors comes at critical time

By David Teel

11:47 AM EDT, August 22, 2012

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ACC athletic directors have much to ponder these days. This fall they’ll evaluate possible rotations for future league football schedules. Realignment is a perennial issue, with the current hot-button topic whether to ease the conference’s long-firm stance against partial membership.

Yes, that means Notre Dame and its struggling but fiercly independent football program.

And speaking of the Fighting Irish, they figure to be included, along with the Big Ten, in the opponent pool opposite the ACC champion in the Orange Bowl. That’s another front-and-center issue for the ADs, one that could get resolved before the season kicks off next week.

Less pressing but not to be ignored: Should the storied ACC basketball tournament be staged north of the Mason-Dixon Line to reflect the additions of Boston College, Syracuse and Pittsburgh? If so, where?

(The New York Post reports the Big East and Madison Square Garden are close to a contract extension that would keep that conference tournament in New York through 2026. The Newport News-based Atlantic 10 has locked up the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn through 2017.)

And what of the ACC’s championship football game? After finally finding a welcoming home in Charlotte, N.C., does the league dare take it north?

The ADs influencing and, in some cases, making those decisions are becoming less and less familiar.

Boston College’s Gene DeFilippo last week announced his retirement after 15 years on the job. As newsworthy: DeFilippo is exiting quickly, on Sept. 30, just prior to the annual ACC fall meetings that Boston College is hosting.

DeFilippo’s retirement did not surprise independent blogger and former Eagles beat reporter Mark Blaudschun, and the dynamics leading to his exit appear personal and professional.

DeFilippo becomes the sixth ACC athletic director to leave his/her position since 2010.

* Lee Fowler resigned after 10 years at North Carolina State. The Wolfpack then hired Maryland’s Debbie Yow, who was replaced by Army’s Kevin Anderson.

* In the wake of North Carolina’s extra benefits and academic fraud scandal, Dick Baddour retired after 14 years — he succeeded John Swofford when Swofford became ACC commissioner. Tulsa’s Bubba Cunningham replaced Baddour.

*Miami’s Kirby Hocutt bailed to Texas Tech after only two years in Coral Gables. The Hurricanes hired Wisconsin deputy athletic director Shawn Eichorst.

* Earlier this month, Clemson’s Terry Don Phillips announced his retirement, effective next summer. He’s been at Clemson for a decade.

The Phillips and DeFilippo departures leave three ACC athletic directors who have been at their current posts since before 2006: Wake Forest’s Ron Wellman (1992), Virginia Tech’s Jim Weaver (1997) and Virginia’s Craig Littlepage (2001).

Weaver plans to retire when his contract expires Dec. 31, 2015. He would be 70.

DeFilippo was among the conference’s strongest and most outspoken voices, witness his remarks last year about ESPN influencing ACC expansion.

Not to suggest the league lacks strong voices now. Wellman, Weaver, Littlepage and Yow, who spent 16 years at Maryland, understand and appreciate the ACC’s culture. Duke’s Kevin White has a wealth of experience from previous AD gigs at Notre Dame (there’s that name again), Arizona State, Tulane and Maine.

Their deliberations and decisions will be telling.

I can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at dteel@dailypress.com. Follow me at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP

Here’s a link to my Daily Press print columns.