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ACC announces new conference commissioner

The conference finds its replacement for the outgoing John Swofford.

Northwestern v Wisconsin Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The ACC has found its replacement for outgoing commissioner John Swofford — Northwestern University’s Vice President for Athletics & Recreation at Northwestern University James J. Phillips, Pd.D.

From the ACC’s press release:

Phillips has led Northwestern to elite status both on and off the playing fields. In competition, under his leadership, 10 of Northwestern’s athletic programs won conference or national championships, with the football team clinching the Big Ten West Division crown twice in the last three seasons. Nine of Northwestern’s 15 all-time football bowl appearances have occurred with Phillips at the helm, as well as the school’s first appearance in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Over the last five years, Northwestern has invested more than $500 million in new and renovated facilities, supported by record fundraising success.

Academically, Wildcats student-athletes surpassed 200 Academic All-Big Ten honorees each of the last 10 years, including a record 288 honorees in 2019-20. Northwestern scored a 98 percent overall Graduation Success Rate (GSR) in the latest data released by the NCAA, a figure which led all FBS schools for the second consecutive year, and has finished in the Top-4 all 15 years the metric has been released.

Phillips is known as one of the leading voices across the college sports landscape. He was elected as the inaugural chair of the NCAA Division I Council in February 2015 and served as the first-ever sitting athletic director on the NCAA Board of Directors and Board of Governors. In March of 2017, he was appointed to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Selection Committee, a group he is slated to chair in 2021-22. Phillips also serves as a member of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Oversight Committee, was appointed to the Fiesta Bowl Board of Directors in June of 2018 and currently chairs the Big Ten TV/Media Committee. He twice has served as a member of the Rose Bowl Management Committee, and was honored as the 2018 Sports Business Journal Athletic Director of the Year for his leadership at Northwestern.

“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.”

“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,” said Phillips. “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.”