Coach K, Roy Williams Favor Having ACC Tournament in New York
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — It may be only a matter of time before the ACC Tournament comes to Madison Square Garden — and you can count Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and North Carolina’s Roy Williams among those who’d like to see it happen.
“We have New York, we should use it,” Coach K told SNY.tv at the Peach Jam. “If we don’t use it, we’re foolish. We use [Madison Square Garden] at Duke, we come there every year.”
Both Coach K and Williams said they would at least be in favor of rotating the ACC Tournament through the Garden — if not having it there every year.
“It’s really, really hard for me to give up on Greensboro (N.C.), but boy having the ACC Tournament in New York would really be something special,” Williams told SNY.tv.
“And at the same time, I’m an old traditionalist and an ACC guy and I love the way Greensboro turns out for the tournament. It’s the most important thing going on in the city. So I’m one of those guys that sits on the fence and that’s not usually a stance that I like to take. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with moving the tournament and playing in two locations. But I will say this, I would be one of those guys that would be in favor of New York and Greensboro.”
The ACC’s deal with Greensboro runs for two more seasons, but sites have not been determined beginning in 2016.
In October, the Big East Conference and the Garden announced an extension through 2026.
Since then, Louisville has bolted for the ACC and the “Catholic Seven” split from the old Big East and ultimately formed the new Big East with the additions of Butler, Creighton and Xavier.
Multiple sources told SNY.tv that the Garden has caveats that would allow them to get out of the contract if certain ticket sale thresholds and other standards are not met.
One ACC coach suggested that the league could also simply offer to buy out the Big East in order to move the ACC event there permanently.
Of course, it remains unclear what would happen to the Big East Tournament under such a scenario.
The Barclays Center in Brooklyn is committed to the Atlantic 10 Tournament for four more years.
By 2014, seven former Big East schools will be in the 15-team ACC: Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Louisville, Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech.
One factor to keep in mind is that Fox is now the official network of the Big East, and one ACC coach said that ESPN would like to wrest control of the Garden’s postseason tournament from Fox.
“I don’t think you can underestimate the power of ESPN wanting to have a league tournament back in the Garden and that certainly isn’t the case now given that Fox has the Garden and the Big East,” the ACC coach told SNY.tv.
“I think the perfect world would be just like the ACC has done. They’ve rotated to other cities, New York City being part of the rotation.”
Incoming ACC coaches Rick Pitino of Louisville, Jim Boeheim of Syracuse, Jamie Dixon of Pittsburgh and Mike Brey of Notre Dame are all in favor of moving the event to the Garden.
“You ask any kid,” Brey told reporters July 1 when new schools officially joined the ACC, according to the Newport News. “I don’t care if he’s playing at Miami, Clemson, Wake Forest, Notre Dame, BC, Virginia Tech, they want to play in the Garden. They want to experience that. … You talk to the kids in the Big East, some of their greatest memories are playing in New York City.”
“I think it would be awesome,” BC coach Steve Donahue told SNY.tv of potentially moving the event to the Garden.
“It’s the best conference and you want to play it in the most exciting arena in the biggest city. And it would be great for everybody, not just the teams in the North. I think it it’s something our league would really benefit greatly from, the excitement.”
N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried agrees.
“Selfishly for our fans and for us, I like Greensboro but I also think playing in New York City brings a level of prestige to the league maybe that nowhere else can in the world,” he told SNY.tv.
“I think it’s something that our league really needs to evaluate and take a hard look at it and go from there.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.