ACC commissioner Jim Phillips says more than half the teams in the conference have exceeded the 85% vaccination threshold but added that there is still no decision on whether games affected by COVID-19 will be rescheduled or forfeited.
“There’s no question that increasing the number of vaccinations will provide the best chance for our teams to compete,” Phillips said at ACC media days Wednesday.
Phillips referenced the NC State baseball team, which was forced out of the College World Series in June after several players tested positive for COVID-19, saying, “It would break my heart, as it did this summer, if any of our student-athletes or teams miss a game because of COVID-19 protocols and contact tracing.”
The ACC’s medical advisory group is scheduled to meet and will provide updated protocols for testing and contact tracing in the coming weeks, Phillips said. He said the decision to wait before determining the impact of positive tests on games is about gathering more information and learning more about how the Delta variant behaves.
While a handful of ACC schools are lagging in vaccination rates, several private institutions have vaccine mandates campuswide, while others are “on the cusp” of reaching the 85% threshold that enables teams to avoid regular COVID-19 testing and having to wear masks indoors. Phillips said vaccine mandates are at the discretion of the schools.
“Personally, I believe vaccines are critical to the protection of all and achieving the goal of eliminating COVID-19 and its variants,” he said, “but I also deeply respect that it’s a personal choice.”
The ACC is working with the Ad Council to create a PSA encouraging vaccinations, and Phillips said schools have been providing information to athletes on the benefits of the vaccine.
In his comments at the ACC’s annual kickoff event, Phillips also addressed the expanded playoff proposal, which remains under review. Two of the league’s highest-profile coaches — Clemson‘s Dabo Swinney and North Carolina‘s Mack Brown — have expressed concerns about a proposed 12-team model, saying their teams were against playing additional games.
Phillips said ACC coaches will meet Wednesday to go over the expansion proposal.
“I asked our coaches to get together and talk about it and discuss how they feel about it, from too many games to health and safety issues to what it does for the regular season,” Phillips said. “Get a feel and a read. We’re starting to see that. Those are real concerns, but we have to be open-minded to it. It doesn’t mean that we’re going to support it, [and their feedback] will certainly influence us.”