ACC meetings: Could league expand conference schedule?

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Not much golf in Roy Williams' immediate future.

From the White House to the beach -- it's been a whirlwind couple days on the ABC11 sports beat, the best kind of whirlwind.

This is our first time covering the ACC Spring Meetings in Amelia Island -- we came in search of unfettered, not-so-formal-as-normal access to all the Triangle's college sports power players and Tuesday surely delivered.



In just the space of an hour or so, we chatted with Roy Williams, Mark Gottfried, Sylvia Hatchell, Larry Fedora and Dave Doeren. David Cutcliffe and the athletic directors will follow Wednesday. (Mike Krzyzewski and Debbie Yow are not in attendance).

Some notes on each discussion:

ROY WILLIAMS (UNC basketball coach)


Williams will have surgery in the next couple weeks to fix his ailing knees. He's not even attempting to golf here, choosing some time by the pool instead, as evidenced by his stylish seahorse swimsuit. Williams told us he'll head up to the NBA Draft combine to watch and support Justin Jackson later this week.

BASKETBALL SCHEDULING


The main thrust of the basketball meetings Tuesday seemed to be the possibility of moving from an 18- to 20-game ACC schedule.

Roy Williams seemed to think it a dubious move, doubting the potential NCAA tournament benefits for mid-table ACC teams, and he stressed that more tough conference games would necessitate cutting back on their marquee non-conference schedule. His greater scheduling interest is evening things out on game frequency.

"We play six games in 12 days sometimes and then one in the next 12 days," Williams said.


MARK GOTTFRIED (NC State basketball coach)


Gottfried was much more bullish on the move to 20 games. He admitted that nobody could actually say with certainty whether it'd help get more ACC teams into the tournament but feels that the boost to schedule strength is too positive to ignore.

DIMINISHING WOLFPACK


We talked about Malik Abu's status with the Pack. Gottfried says he's had no conversations with Abu about his reported interest in a transfer and as far as he's concerned, Malik is just taking advantage of the new NBA draft process, with his blessing.

As for the Martins, Gottfried said that while he was admittedly surprised that they chose to transfer, he hopes they find a happy place. On the current transfer culture, he had some interesting words.

"Before, guys didn't want to be the 10th or 11th guy, now they don't want to be seventh or eighth," Gottfried said.



Gott is upbeat about the players that remain at NC State, mentioning Dennis Smith Jr., Terry Henderson and Torin Dorn specifically. He said that while Smith is fully recovered from his ACL, he's still the cautious coach, constantly telling DSJ to slow down and "quit dunking so much." On the recruiting trail, Gottfried told us he's looking for "big bodies, bodies in general." Heck knows there's room.

SYLVIA HATCHELL (UNC women's basketball coach)


This was the most heartfelt interview of the day without question. Hatchell started by saying how happy she was that men's basketball and football and her 'good buddies Roy and Larry appeared out of the woods in the new Notice of Allegations. Still, she said she was heartbroken that the women's team has been placed in the position it has.

When I pressed Hatchell about whether she feels her team has been made a sacrificial lamb, her response was telling: "It's hard not to feel that way."



Even more interesting was Hatchell telling us she's retained powerhouse attorney Wade Smith, paying from her own pocket, to "protect women's basketball."

Hatchell remains determined and buoyed by her players, saying that her cancer battle reminded her of how much she loves coaching. Recruiting is very difficult under the black cloud of the NCAA - but Hatchell genuinely believes that since the allegations are all academic in nature and don't involve any coaches or recruiting improprieties, that the team doesn't deserve any sanctions. She has read the Jan Boxill interview from last Sunday's News and Observer and while she maintains having zero involvement in the academic issues, spoke in support of Boxill's rep on campus, adding that she wants to believe her side of the story.

Hatchell, by the way has a new book coming out soon. "Fight! Fight!" is the title. Apropos on many levels.

DAVE DOEREN (NC State football coach)


Doeren was especially proud of Jacoby Brissett, Joe Thuney and Juston Burris exceeding their draft expectations, saying it spoke to the players' determination and all the coaches and the program they've got going at State.

A pet subject for him seems to be ramping up the allowable technology on the sidelines. He'd like to see tablets implemented, rather than the pencil and legal pads they're currently restricted to using.

UNBALANCED DIVISIONS


Perhaps the most surprising thing we learned post football meetings today? There was zero discussion of how the current divisional imbalance (Clemson, FSU both in Atlantic) could potentially be muted, or even changed. Doeren said his sense was that years of previous discussions have gone nowhere so there's a feeling now that it's wasted breath even bringing it up.

LARRY FEDORA (UNC football coach)


Larry's probably just as happy of course to keep the Coastal Division just the way it is. They are the champs and figure to be favorites again in 2016. My main takeaways from him, he thinks the hubbub about satellite camps is unwarranted, almost laughing off the notion that there are high school players worthy of a scholarship that somehow don't get noticed in the current recruiting environment. He seemed most interested in discussing the rules of contact to further the safety of the game and working out an improved, coordinated replay system.

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