Former UNC coach speaks about the future of the Atlantic Coast Conference

The conference headquarters are relocating to Charlotte in 2023.
For decades the ACC has been tied to some of the most beloved sports schools in the Carolinas, but has expanded in recent years.
Published: Oct. 21, 2022 at 10:32 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Matt Doherty’s history with the Atlantic Coast Conference extends back several decades. In the 1980s he played for the North Carolina Tar Heels. In 1982 he helped the team win a national championship.

Doherty went on to coach the Heels for a brief stint in the early 2000s.

To this day he’s still a big fan of UNC, college basketball and the Atlantic Coast Conference. He fondly remembers his days playing in Greensboro, North Carolina during the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament.

“Those were some great days. (I) love Greensboro and love the ACC tournament in Greensboro. In ‘82 we won the ACC Tournament in Greensboro and went on to win the national championship,” noted Doherty during a recent interview with WBTV.

The ACC had strong roots in Greensboro, but now the historic conference is being uprooted. The conference headquarters are relocating to Charlotte in 2023. Doherty said he welcomes the move.

“I think it’s great. 70 years in Greensboro. It’s been a heck of a run. Greensboro will always be in my heart, the home of the ACC, but for progress it’s gotta move to Charlotte,” said Doherty.

He noted that Charlotte has more to offer than Greensboro.

“The airports, the access. If you’re running a league office you need to get to all these cities and when you’re in Greensboro you gotta go through Charlotte or drive to Raleigh to maybe get up to Syracuse or get down to Miami and now you have the direct flights. And now you have the media – bigger media market here in Charlotte. And then you have the sponsors, you have these companies and now you have direct access to that,” elaborated Doherty.

ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips recently addressed the big move at a basketball tipoff event in Charlotte.

“When you have to make that kind of call it’s never easy, but it’s the right thing. It’s the right moment. It’s about the modernization of our conference. Our conference looks different than it has nearly now 70 years ago,” said Phillips.

Doherty reiterated that the headquarters relocating is a business decision.

“It’s all about money. It’s the dollars. It’s what’s good business sense and it’s nothing personal but it’s a good business decision,” he explained.

The former coach also shared his thoughts on conference realignment.

Last year the universities of Texas and Oklahoma agreed to leave the Big 12 and join the SEC. Earlier this year UCLA and the University of Southern California agreed to leave the PAC-12 and join the Big Ten.

“It’s a business. It’s all about funding. It’s all about money,” noted Doherty.

Phillips was asked about conference realignment during his press conference at the basketball tipoff event.

“We continue to monitor what’s happening. We continue to try to make the very best decisions. We continue to look at all options. I feel really good about where we’re at,” said Phillips.

According to CBS affiliate WNCN in Raleigh, the schools in the ACC are currently bound together through a grant of rights agreement. Each school signed over its television rights to the league. That agreement has been extended through 2036 and makes it difficult for any one school to leave the conference, according to WNCN.

Doherty said he still sees change on the horizon for this historic conference. He said he doesn’t think the same 15 schools will make up the conference in 10 years.

“I don’t know if we’ll have an ACC. I wouldn’t bet on it. I hate to say it. I love the ACC, but I wouldn’t bet on that.”