Over the last few days, we have heard of the numerous areas in which the new ESPN/ACC Network will benefit the ACC as a conference.
The ACC schools will benefit financially because of this deal (though the details have not yet been released), as it will put them in line with the SEC and Big Ten. The conference will be able to maintain stability for at least the next 20 years (unless it chooses to expand). Also, though it was not talked about in great depth, the new partnership will have a huge impact on the Olympic sports in the ACC and more specifically at UNC.
As seen in the video below from GoHeelsTV, Bubba Cunningham made sure to mention first that this partnership between the ACC and ESPN is great news for UNC’s Olympic sport programs.
As Cunningham goes on to say, UNC has had a lot of success in their Olympic sports. UNC has won 42 total team national championships, which is the ninth highest total in Division 1 of the NCAA (UNC has won five additional team national championships, but they are not recognized by the NCAA). Of those 42 national championships, 36 have been won by Olympic sport programs (six national championships have been won by men’s and women’s basketball).
Year after year, UNC boasts one of the strongest all-around athletic programs in the country. Just this past year, UNC finished 7th overall in the Learfield Director’s Cup Standings (highest ranking in the ACC), thanks in large part to two national championships won by the lacrosse teams.
UNC’s yearly high ranking in the Director’s Cup is due to the athletic department having a strong commitment to and support of Olympic sports. Excluding basketball and football, the Tar Heels field 25 Olympic sport teams. With the ACC Network and ACC Network Extra, there is a chance for these teams to get even better.
With more success comes more opportunities for exposure. More exposure leads to easier recruiting for coaches. Better recruiting leads to more success on the playing field. More success on the playing field leads to possibly more revenue, and the cycle continues on and on.
As Cunningham says in the video above, the ACC Network will give the Olympic teams at UNC much more exposure. The network will allow for fans, family, and recruits to watch these teams from anywhere in the world. This certainly will help in recruiting new athletes. It will show recruits, who may not be able to easily get to Chapel Hill, all that UNC has to offer. Nowadays, a lot of recruiting it seems comes down to an athlete’s parents being able to watch their son/daughter play. With the new network, this will help solve that problem and allow for coaches to recruit a much broader area.
As said by UNC Women’s Lacrosse coach Jenny Levy, "An ACC Network gives us the ability to showcase our Olympic sport athletes, teams and programs, to tell stories and highlight excellence to create exposure and excitement for our member institutions in both traditional and non-traditional markets. Ultimately, this will have a big impact on recruiting."
Women’s Soccer coach Anson Dorrance shared a very similar opinion on the new network, "It’s going to be a recruiting weapon for every sport. It’s going to be a visibility weapon. It’s going to be a branding weapon. I can’t tell you all the different ways that this is going to benefit the university, the kids that are playing in it, their families, our fans, I could go on and on about the impact of this."
As Dorrance said, visibility for these teams is not going to be an issue with the number of live events that are going to be shown on both the ACC Network and ACC Network Extra. Beginning this year, Extra will begin showing over 600 live events. In 2019, that number will increase to over 1300 live events across both platforms (with many of those being Olympic sports).
The ACC can boast as having some of the strongest Olympic sports programs in all of the country. The ACC Network will give fans of these teams opportunities all year long to watch big match-ups like Duke vs. North Carolina in men’s lacrosse or UVA vs. the Heels in women’s soccer, when they otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do so.
As a fan of not just the basketball and football teams, I am excited to see the positive effects that this new deal has on Olympic sports at UNC. Dorrance sums it all up in this one quote, "There are Tar Heel fingerprints all over this and I am proud to be a part of all this."