ACC set to hire Northwestern AD Jim Phillips as its next commissioner

Jim Phillips, Northwestern’s director of athletics, has emerged as the frontrunner to become the next ACC commissioner, according to a report from Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports.

Back in June, John Swofford announced his plan to retire after the 2020-21 sports calendar year, following 24 years leading the ACC. Shortly after that announcement, the league started its search for Swofford’s replacement. That process has led to the emergence of Phillips.

This isn’t the first time Phillips has been in the running for a Power Five commissioner job, though. Phillips was also a top candidate to become the Big Ten’s commissioner last year; however, that post went instead to Kevin Warren.

According to Thamel, Phillips is set to receive an official offer from the ACC.

Phillips has spent the last 13 years running the athletics department at Northwestern. During that time, Phillips is credited with helping elevate the school’s football program — along with head coach Pat Fitzgerald. Northwestern will play against Ohio State this Saturday in the Big Ten title game.

In 2013, Phillips hired Duke assistant Chris Collins to become the men’s basketball coach at Northwestern. Collins led the Wildcats to the 2017 NCAA Tournament, the first appearance in school history.

Prior to his arrival at Northwestern, Phillips served for four years as the athletic director at Northern Illinois (2004-08). Before that run, though, Phillips worked in the athletic department at Notre Dame. During that stint, he worked with Kevin White, now the athletic director at Duke. White was the AD at Notre Dame for almost a full decade (2000-08) before leaving for Durham.

Phillips has a reputation as a fundraiser and builder, which could prove pivotal upon his arrival to the ACC. Potential negotiations with media partner ESPN loom on the horizon.

Update, 1:00 p.m.:

The league office made the hiring of Phillips official; he will begin his duties in a matter of months, starting Feb. 2021.


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