Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips is set to become the new commissioner for the ACC.
Back in the summer, current ACC commissioner John Swofford announced that he would retire this upcoming June. He had been acting as the conference’s commissioner for close to 25 years, but he was finally ready to step down.
That cleared a path for Phillips, who has been the athletic director for Northwestern since 2008. Here is the official statement made by the ACC on Monday:
“Jim is one of the most talented athletic administrators in the country and uniquely qualified to successfully and seamlessly take over the helm of the ACC,” says ACC Board Chair Kent Syverud (Syracuse University). “Over the course of nearly 13 years, Jim has elevated and cemented Northwestern’s position as an outstanding Power 5 athletics program. Northwestern’s ascension in the world of intercollegiate athletics is a testament to Jim’s vision, leadership and foundational dedication to the success of student-athletes. The ACC is fortunate to have someone of Jim’s caliber and integrity lead the conference at this pivotal moment in intercollegiate athletics.”
It’s a wild time to take over these responsibilities, but hopefully we’ll be past the COVID-19 pandemic — or at least most of it — by the time Phillips takes over in February of 2021.
At one time, Phillips seemed poised to take over as the Big Ten’s commissioner following the retirement of Jim Delany back in January. Unfortunately, he was beat out for the job by current commissioner Kevin Warren.
The Big Ten’s loss is the ACC’s gain, however.
Phillips is grateful for the opportunity to serve in his new role, which he discussed in a statement of his own.
“With overwhelming gratitude to ACC Board of Directors chair Kent Syverud, search advisory committee co-chairs Nathan Hatch and Fr. John Jenkins, and the Conference’s 15 member institutions, I accept this humbling invitation to lead the Atlantic Coast Conference. Serving Northwestern student-athletes, staff and the greater Wildcats family for the last 13 years has been the privilege of my professional life. The opportunity to watch my children grow up in my hometown, and work alongside leaders like presidents Henry Bienen and Morty Schapiro, as well as board chairs Pat Ryan, Bill Osborn and Lanny Martin, is something I’ll always be profoundly thankful for. My career has been dedicated to the development and betterment of student-athletes, and I am thrilled for this once-in-a-lifetime chance to guide one of the most prestigious and accomplished athletic organizations in the world.”
Maybe Phillips can convince Notre Dame to make the temporary move to the ACC permanent. The addition of the Fighting Irish has put the conference in a position to get two teams into the College Football Playoff.
The permanent move is a long shot, but we’ll see what happens.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.