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Old Gold & Black

'Covers the campus like the magnolias'
"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

Wake Forest reacts to conference expansion

SMU, Cal and Stanford will join the ACC in 2024

The new era of collegiate sports knows no boundaries, and the Atlantic Coast Conference proved no different after their recent addition of three national institutions: Stanford University, University of California-Berkeley and Southern Methodist University.

The three institutions are well-reputed academic schools, with each of the three ranking at the top of the U.S. News’ National Universities list. (Stanford, UC Berkeley and SMU rank third, 20th, and 72nd, respectively.)

“These are world-class institutions that will strengthen the ACC’s academic and research network, in addition to providing new and exciting competitive opportunities for our student-athletes,” Wake Forest President Dr. Susan Wente said in a press release.

Wente, also a member of the ACC’s Executive Committee, concurred with Wake Forest Athletic Director John Currie in approving the expansion of the conference.

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“An important factor in Wake Forest’s decision to vote in favor of expansion is the academic caliber of the institutions with whom we have aligned ourselves,” said Currie in his “From The Quad” newsletter.

Another reason for the additions was the strength of each of the sports and their athletic departments. Stanford has won 26 out of 29 Directors’ Cup trophies, an award given to the most successful athletic department in the nation.

“We’re already competing against Stanford, SMU and Cal in the NCAA Championships,” said women’s golf star Rachel Kuehn. “To add them to the ACC will make our conference even more of a powerhouse.”

“The student-athletes we have in our league are used to playing at the highest level,” Currie said to the “Ovies + Giglio” podcast this month. “They want to play at the highest level, and this is the highest level.”

We’re already competing against Stanford, SMU and Cal in the NCAA Championships. To add them to the ACC will make our conference even more of a powerhouse.

— Rachel Kuehn, women's golf

Some student-athletes believe that the addition of the three schools will improve the quality of competition in their sports as well.

“I came to Wake Forest to compete, win championships and earn a degree from one of the top schools in the country,” said Wake Forest football wide receiver Ke’Shawn Williams. “This news about the ACC expanding is good for our league.”

One of the issues among the dissenters was student-athlete welfare. In an open letter written by the UNC Board of Trustees, board members opposed the expansion for this reason.

“The strong majority of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Board of Trustees opposes the proposed expansion of the Atlantic Coast Conference,” they wrote. “Although we respect the academic excellence and athletic programs of these institutions, the travel distances for routine in-conference competitive play are too great to make sense for our student-athletes, coaches, alumni and fans.” (UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham reportedly voted against expansion in the vote held last week.)

“There are ways to adapt to new geographic realities that don’t compromise competitive excellence and allow for the ability to make sure our student-athlete welfare is appropriate,” Currie said to “Ovies + Giglio.”

“Today’s announcement about the Atlantic Coast Conference expanding is further evidence that our goal is to compete at the highest level,” said Student-Athlete Advisory Council President Matthew Dennis. “I appreciated AD John Currie meeting with us to discuss this potential move and what it will mean for us as athletes, and I look forward to continuing these conversations to ensure that the player wellbeing of all student-athletes is at the forefront of college athletics.”

Another notable outcome of the expansion is the security of Wake Forest and the ACC. In the ever-evolving landscape of college sports and re-alignment, acting quickly to add the institutions could prove crucial to the survival of the conference.

“The additions of Stanford, Cal-Berkeley and Southern Methodist University bring stability to our conference,” said Head Football Coach Dave Clawson. “While these schools are out of the traditional ACC footprint, these programs all have historic success and will bring a new element to our league.”

Failure to act at other institutions has proven costly. Most notably, Pac-12 member Oregon State has been left in the ruins of what was a Power Five conference and are left looking for a home.

Despite this, a recently completed $161 million renovation of their football facilities at Reser Stadium provides a telling sign that just because money is poured into facilities, does not mean that it guarantees a spot in a power conference.

“We have to look at how we make sure the ACC continues to stay strong for generations,” Currie added to Ovies + Giglio.

The three institutions are set to join the conference next year.

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About the Contributor
Sean Kennedy
Sean Kennedy, Sports Editor
Sean is a junior from Long Island, NY majoring in communication and minoring in journalism and film studies. Outside of the OGB, he is the president of the Sports Analytics Club and a member of Wake Radio. In his free time, you can find him following all levels of professional sports and supporting his favorite teams — the Celtics, Jets, Yankees and Islanders.

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    Terri L HammondSep 8, 2023 at 1:43 pm

    From an SMU alum…much respect for your school and much appreciation for your vote of confidence in us.