July 24, 2007

ACC Notebook: Championship game on move?

PINEHURST, N.C. The Atlantic Coast Conference hasn't ruled out the possibility of rotating the sites for its championship game.

ACC officials plan to announce the sites for the 2008, 2009 and 2010 championship games in December, ACC Associate Commissioner Michael Kelly said Tuesday during the final day of the ACC Media Days at the Pinehurst Resort.

The ACC's contract to hold the game in Jacksonville, Fla., expires at the end of this season. Jacksonville is competing with Tampa, Orlando and Charlotte, N.C., for the rights to the 2008, 2009 and 2010 championships.

"It's not a winner-take-all situation," Kelly said. "It could be a situation where we award one to one city, one to another. It could be all three to one."

This wouldn't mark the first time a BCS conference experimented with rotating sites for a championship game.

The Southeastern Conference has held its championship game in Atlanta since 1994 after holding the first two games in Birmingham, Ala. But the Big 12 has played its 11 championship games in five different cities.

"The biggest favorable part of that is it gives you an opportunity to see those different cities and venues and how they would do at hosting a game," ACC Commissioner John Swofford said. "If you're not there, you're guessing. You have a perception of what it would be like and how well it could be done and how well it would be attended, but you don't know until you give it a try. It would be a reality test.

"The other side of that is you're not giving one locale the opportunity to develop the game there locally, building on each and every year."

Each of the cities competing for the right to host the championship must submit a proposal by Aug. 31.

Swofford acknowledged that the uncertainty surrounding the Citrus Bowl could hinder Orlando's opportunity to host a championship game by 2010. The Orange County (Fla.) Commission is scheduled to vote this week on a $1.1 billion construction package that would include renovation of the stadium among other projects.

"There are some unknowns there in terms of timing and exactly what will be done with the stadium and when it will be done," Swofford said. "We would certainly welcome Orlando, but with the stadium renovation project not yet determined and the probability that it would be going on during this three-year period, it may be that Orlando comes back into the picture later on."

Dix, Harding, honored

Florida State sprinter Walter Dix has won the Anthony J. McKevlin Award that goes to the conference's top male athlete each year, Swofford announced Tuesday. Duke women's basketball player Lindsey Harding received the Mary Garber Award given to the outstanding female performer.

Dix won the 100-meter and 200-meter dash and ran on the first-place 4x100 relay team to help Florida State capture its second consecutive national title in men's outdoor track. Dix received 31 votes, while Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson was second with 23 votes, and Duke lacrosse player Matt Danowski finished third with 12 votes.

Harding won the Naismith Award given to the nation's most outstanding player and led Duke to an undefeated regular-season record. Harding received 22 votes to edge North Carolina soccer player Heather O'Reilly by a single vote. Wake Forest distance runner Michelle Sikes and Maryland field hockey player Paula Infante tied for third place with eight votes each.

Background checks

In the wake of the scandal involving former NBA official Tim Donaghy, Swofford noted that the ACC is entering its second year of conducting background checks for football, men's basketball and women's basketball officials.

Swofford said he believes the Big Ten and ACC are the only conferences with such a program in place. The NCAA also conducts its own background checks for officials in the NCAA Tournament and bowl games, Swofford said.

The FBI is investigating Donaghy regarding accusations that he bet on games he officiated the last two seasons.

Donaghy resigned July 9.

Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com.

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