PINEHURST, N.C. (AP) The Atlantic Coast Conference will have team medical observers in the booth during games this fall to improve player safety, Commissioner John Swofford said Monday.
Speaking during the ACC Kickoff preseason media day, Swofford said observers will travel to all games with a team, including on the road.
”This team-specific medical observer will have the benefit of knowing the medical history of the players, because it will be somebody who is involved with them on an ongoing and day-to-day basis,” he said.
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Swofford said league athletic directors approved the measure unanimously Sunday. He said the medical observer won’t be able to stop the game but will be able to communicate with that team’s sideline to spot problems that might have gone unnoticed, have a timeout called or have a player pulled from the game.
”This is all experimental,” he said. ”So we’ll see how it actually works in real time, and if there needs to be some adjustment to that, then we’ll see in future years.”
The Southeastern Conference, Big Ten and Pac-12 all have instituted similar – though not identical – policies regarding injury spotters. While Swofford said the ACC model is similar to the Pac-12’s policy. The SEC and Big Ten will have an independent observer watching both teams.
”It’s the right thing to do,” North Carolina State athletic director Debbie Yow said of the ACC’s model. ”For all the right reasons. We’ll figure out the logistics (such as) where does person sit – they have to be near the phone, obviously.”
Swofford’s comments came during his annual preseason forum covering a range of topics.
As for the potential creation of an ACC TV channel, Swofford said discussions with ESPN remain ongoing, but there is no timetable. The league’s current TV deal runs through the 2026-27 season and includes broadcasting through ESPN’s online platforms to reach mobile devices.
”We’ll reach an endpoint at some point in time,” Swofford said. ”And believe me, I’ll be just as glad as you are. I know you’re tired of hearing me talk and not saying very much on that subject.”
Swofford also addressed NCAA reforms that include legislation providing athletes with cost-of-attendance money for the upcoming school year. Swofford said it was ”vitally important to modernize” the college model.
”And quite frankly, and candidly, I think we’ve probably waited too long to make some necessary adjustments such as cost of attendance,” Swofford said.
Swofford also was asked about the structure of the College Football Playoff, which is entering its second year. While there was plenty of discussion in December when TCU and Baylor weren’t selected out of the Big 12, Swofford said he expected the playoff would stay at four teams for the foreseeable future because school presidents don’t want football to grow into a two-semester sport.
”If you only want to talk about football and only about a playoff and what would be best there, yeah, eight would probably be better,” Swofford said. ”That way, in my mind, you have the five major conference champions and you have three at-large that are chosen.
”Everybody says one conference is going to be left out. Well, it may be two. … But (expansion) is not in the cards right now.”
AP College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo contributed to this report.
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