ACC commissioner Jim Phillips: I believe that vaccinations are critical to the protection of all, and the key to eliminating COVID-19

In his first public press conference as ACC Commissioner, Jim Phillips addressed the assembled media in Charlotte for the 2021 ACC Kickoff. Unsurprisingly, there was a focus on COVID-19 vaccine and policies, plus NIL discussion.


Topics Discussed

  • MVP of the ACC Championship game will receive the John Swofford Award
  • The summer of 2021 will be used to address College Football Playoff expansion
    • Athletic directors received a presentation earlier this week, which the 14 head coaches will receive later today, too
  • COVID-19
    • More Below
  • NIL
    • More Below



As the league gets set to head into its second season of football with the presence of COVID-19, Phillips addressed how preparations are coming along. There was a minor focus on vaccines, too.

Vaccine mandates will still be left up to the individual school, according to Phillips.

The commissioner also stated that a decision hasn’t been made yet on whether teams who can’t play because of COVID-19 would be subject to a forfeit. More on that will come soon, though, along with the conference’s 2021 virus protocols.

Phillips did state the over half of the ACC’s 14 football programs have cleared the 85 percent vaccination threshold.


Name, Image and Likeness

Phillips didn’t exactly strike a strong chord while discussing name, image and likeness. He continued to press for national standards, while also claiming that NIL shouldn’t be a recruiting advantage for programs.

The presumed concerns over how NIL could create a recruiting advantage in college athletics ring especially hollow. As literally everyone who follows college sports knows, programs have never recruited on a level playing field.

Regardless of sport, different schools will have built-in advantages that are based off a variety of factors: location, prestige, tradition, facilities — whatever. This has never been an equitable process. Plus, there’s already plenty of money caught up in these elements.

It feels tedious and misguided to assume (or at least publicly state) now that athletes have a direct line into some of the money flowing into college sports that it’ll tilt this thing on its axis.


This isn’t a cry for modernity in college athletics, which is badly needed. There are inevitable changes on the horizon; in fact, some of them are already happening. The ground is shifting with NIL.

What should be obvious: the schools and conferences that embrace NIL head on — with creative, forward-thinking opportunities — are in the best position to stay current and change with the times.


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