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ACC chief doesn’t like ‘optics’ of widespread college sports gambling

Joey Knight, Staff Times Writer

A few highlights from ACC commissioner John Swofford's nearly hour-long opening address at this morning's ACC Kickoff in Charlotte.

• Swofford noted the ACC Network — in partnership with ESPN — remains set to launch in time for the 2019 football season despite a change in leadership at ESPN. Swofford said he has met at length with new ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro.

"It was immediately clear during our first conversation that the ACC Network remains a top business priority for ESPN," he said.

• He likes the NCAA's new redshirt rule, which allows a player to appear in up to four games without losing a year of eligibility.

"The opportunity to have limited game experience without penalty, especially when you consider the length of a season and possible attrition during the season, should be an overall benefit to the game for players and the coaches," he said.

• On the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that clears the way for every state to allow sports gambling: "I may be one of the most naive people in the world about gambling, quite honestly," Swofford said. "I can't even tell you the lingo that goes with it, quite frankly. But I know it can be incredibly problematic.

"I don't like the optics of gambling in college sports, but at the same time, it's obviously going on illegally, and has been for years. … I don't know how much it changes anything, and I'm not sure anybody does."

In light of the ruling, Swofford indicated he believes a "national" injury-report method of some sort ultimately will surface. Swofford said until this year, his coaches had a "gentlemen's agreement" to publicly disclose injury information. Ironically, they won't in 2018.

• With the ACC Network's arrival, the league is ending its relationship after this season with Raycom, which has broadcast conference football games via syndication for more than three decades.

"In today's world, those kinds of long-term relationships just don't happen very often," he said.

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