COVID, NIL and CFP Expansion all headline ACC Kickoff in Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Wednesday in Charlotte at the ACC Kickoff was the first time media had the chance to speak with new ACC commissioner Jim Phillips.

With just over six weeks until the start of the ACC season and the new COVID variant spreading across the country, many are wondering what the ACC plans to put in place for protocols this season.

"Vaccinations are critical to the protection of all and helping to achieve the goal of eliminating COVID-19 and variants," Phillips said. "I also deeply respect that getting vaccinated is a personal choice."

Phillips took the stage Wednesday in support of vaccinations saying it would break his heart to see a team miss out on a game because of a positive result - but there still is no set in stone answer about what the league will do when it comes to rescheduling or cancelling games this season because of COVID.

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Wednesday in Charlotte at the ACC Kickoff was the first time media had the chance to speak with new ACC commissioner Jim Phillips.

"As it relates to not making a declaration if cancellations or forfeit," he said. "We want to wait a couple of's really a recommendation of our medical group, ADs and president."

Last season the Blue Devils played its home games in an empty stadium - without any family members in the stands - but this year the university is requiring all students must be vaccinated before coming to campus - including the football team.

"We are down to maybe one player that just arrived that is short of vaccination," said Coach Cutcliffe. "The freedoms that go with that, the relief from me that people forget all of these young people were under your care. That would make you sweat bullets. Vaccination has been something that, I like to dance anyways after wins, I'm dancing after vaccinations."

UNC head coach Mack Brown has been vocal about his support of vaccination - he said his team hasn't hit the 85-percent threshold yet but says they're working on a plan and meeting Thursday to discuss it.

"It's here," said Mack Brown. "It's real. I was hoping like all of us it would be gone away and probably people have gotten a little more careless. We have encouraged everybody to get it, some as we know across our country and our world do not want to get it. We understand that. That's fair. Our job is to educate their job is to make personal decision."

Phillips said he makes decisions with the athletes best interest in mind - which is why he's supportive of athletes benefiting from their name image and likeness though he says more work needs to be done to avoid it becoming a recruiting advantage.

"We can do this thing but we have real challenges ahead if we don't get national legislation. I think there are incredible opportunities for our student-athletes coming but we need a national standard," Phillips said.

The other big thing on the agenda was the expansion of the college football playoff from four teams to 12.

The commissioner said the athletic directors had a chance to look at the proposal Tuesday and planned to meet Wednesday night with the 14 head coaches to show them the proposal - but there is some hesitation.
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