Conference stability, NIL among topics on table at ACC meetings

Georgia Tech athletics director J Batt (shown here in a photo from 2022) said he has 'great confidence in the ACC' during Monday's conference gathering in Florida. Miguel Martinez /

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Georgia Tech athletics director J Batt (shown here in a photo from 2022) said he has 'great confidence in the ACC' during Monday's conference gathering in Florida. Miguel Martinez /

FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. – Head coaches and athletic directors from the ACC’s 18 members, including Georgia Tech AD J Batt, football coach Brent Key, basketball coach Damon Stoudamire and women’s basketball coach Nell Fortner, convened Monday at the Ritz-Carlton for the start of the league’s spring meetings.

Among the distinguished guests Monday included NCAA president Charlie Baker.

“Heard (about) some of the topics (Baker) has tackled in the last year, everything from his focus to taking care of our student-athletes from a healthcare perspective to his very public campaign against prop betting,” Batt said. “Covered that and some pressing issues and topics. Was a really good forum and opportunity for some conversations. We covered a lot.”

Batt is 19 months into his Tech tenure, a tenure that has seen a seismic shift in the league’s makeup and in college athletics overall.

Southern Methodist, California and Stanford will become official league members July 1 and Aug. 2, respectively. Conference stalwarts Florida State and Clemson are threatening (complete with litigation) to depart the ACC due to frustrations over television revenue. Name, image and likeness and revenue sharing continue to be hot-button talking points inside the conference and nationally.

The ACC is discussing all those things and more this week, and Baker spoke during the 105-minute joint session Monday afternoon about those issues.

“It’s an awesome statement about how accessible he’s been and, I think, is gonna continue to be as we go along,” Batt said of Baker’s attendance Monday.

Batt’s young tenure at Tech has featured the promoting of Key from an interim position to a full-time coach. The Yellow Jackets recovered from four straight losing seasons to make a bowl game in December and go 7-6.

Batt also brought in Stoudamire in hopes of returning Tech to its once lofty and not-so-recent past on the hardwood. There were mixed results on the court during the 2023-24 season, but Stoudamire’s recruiting efforts off the court have been incredibly impressive in the two months since the Jackets were ousted from the ACC tournament. Fortner’s squad, too, is bringing in a highly-touted recruiting class after a down year in the standings.

Tech has remained a member of the ACC, having joined in 1979, through all of the recent turmoil and uncertainty and there haven’t been any indications or rumblings or rumors that departing the league is a possibility. Only Clemson, Duke, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Wake Forest and Virginia have been a part of the ACC, now based in Charlotte, longer than Tech.

“I’ve got great confidence in the ACC. We’ve had a great performance on the field for the last several years. We continue to be some of the strongest academic institutions in the country. There are really ascendent institutions that continue to provide really good value to the TV partners,” Batt said. “I have a lot of confidence in our league and our leadership and I think there’s a really positive outlook moving forward. I think we’ve got to continue to invest in our student-athletes, invest in our experiences in games, from a television perspective and I think you got a lot of people pulling in that same direction.”

Baker, meanwhile, did stop briefly Monday afternoon to chat with the press and was peppered with questions concerning the pressing matters of the day - primarily the NCAA’s immediate future. He stressed that everyone involved is, foundationally, striving to formulate a plan because that plan will then lead to investing – investing in students, athletes, programs and futures.

As for league-specific issues, Batt said he approaches the sessions equal parts note taker and listener while also trying to bring ideas and points to the table.

“I think it’s really about being prepared for all the materials that are sent in advance and being able to engage in the conversation with colleagues,” he added. “We really don’t get a lot of time with all the ADs in one room. The conference staff and commissioner (Jim) Phillips do a great job organizing a productive agenda for the group.

“Certainly there’s a bunch of pressing topics out there, everything from where we headed around some of the basketball initiatives, football initiatives, women’s basketball initiatives - it’s all across the board. And certainly there are a lot of different topics on a national level, but we’ll leave most of that to the commissioner (to address.)”

Meetings are scheduled to continue Tuesday and Wednesday with Phillips scheduled to meet with the media at the conclusion of the event.