John Swofford, the longest-tenured commissioner in the 67-year history of the Atlantic Coast Conference, announced Thursday morning that the 2020-21 athletic year will be the last of his 24 years of service.
Swofford will continue in the Commissioner’s chair until his successor is installed and will assist with the transition as needed.
“It has been a privilege to be a part of the ACC for over five decades and my respect and appreciation for those associated with the league throughout its history is immeasurable,” said Swofford. “Having been an ACC student-athlete, athletics director and commissioner has been an absolute honor. There are immediate challenges that face not only college athletics, but our entire country, and I will continue to do my very best to help guide the conference in these unprecedented times through the remainder of my tenure.
“Nora and I have been planning for this to be my last year for some time and I look forward to enjoying the remarkable friendships and memories I’ve been blessed with long after I leave this chair.”
A native of North Wilkesboro where he was a three-sport most valuable player and all-state quarterback for legendary Head Coach Marvin "Red" Hoffman at Wilkes Central High School, Swofford attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a Morehead Scholarship as part of head coach Bill Dooley’s first football recruiting class.
In addition to earning a spot on the ACC Academic Honor Roll as a student-athlete, he started at quarterback as a sophomore and part of his junior year, and then finished his career as a defensive back for UNC’s 1971 ACC Championship team. He played in the Peach Bowl as a junior and the Gator Bowl as a senior.
Swofford received his Master’s in Athletics Administration from Ohio University. His first job in college athletics came at the University of Virginia — where he worked under future ACC Commissioner Gene Corrigan — before returning to North Carolina.
In 1980, at the age of 31, Swofford was named the athletics director at his alma mater and held that post for 17 years. As athletics director, Swofford’s teams won more ACC and NCAA championships than any other athletic director in ACC history, a record that still stands. In 1994, Carolina won the Sears Director’s Cup, awarded to the top overall athletics program in the nation, the only ACC program to ever win that award.
As the fourth commissioner of the ACC, Swofford guided the league to unprecedented stability, success and growth, expanding from nine to 15 members beginning with Miami and Virginia Tech in 2004, quickly followed by Boston College and later joined by Pitt, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Louisville.
Today’s ACC spans the entire eastern seaboard, giving it the largest geographical footprint and population among all Autonomy 5 conferences. Expansion allowed the league to secure its future through the grant of media rights, creation of the ACC Football Championship Game, an invaluable partnership with the Orange Bowl, and joining with ESPN in August 2019 to establish the ACC Network, which provides fans exceptional access to live events via a comprehensive, multi-platform network.