Consistency. It is the mark of true excellence in any endeavor.
However, in today’s intercollegiate athletics, competition has become so balanced and so competitive that it is virtually impossible to maintain a high level of consistency.
Yet the Atlantic Coast Conference has defied the odds. Now, in its 62nd year of competition, the ACC has long enjoyed the reputation as one of the strongest and most competitive intercollegiate conferences in the nation. And that is not mere conjecture, the numbers support it.
Since the league’s inception in 1953, ACC schools have captured 136 NCAA team championships, including 71 in women’s competition and 65 in men’s. In addition, NCAA individual titles have gone to ACC student-athletes 156 times in men’s competition and 107 times in women’s action. Given the ACC’s strong history and the strengthening of its ranks with the additions of Notre Dame, Pitt and Syracuse in 2013, followed by Louisville in 2014, those numbers – and the league’s longstanding tradition of excellence – appear destined to only grow greater in the years ahead.
Since 1977, when the league adopted women’s basketball, a tradition of excellence was established.
A league-record eight ACC squads were among the 64-team field for the 2014 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship. ACC Champion Notre Dame was selected as a No. 1 seed, Duke a No. 2 seed, Maryland and North Carolina No. 4 seeds, NC State a No. 5 seed, Syracuse a No. 6 seed and Florida State and Georgia Tech No. 10 seeds. It marked the 20th-consecutive year that at least four ACC teams have been selected to the NCAA Championship Field. Three teams, Maryland, North Carolina and Notre Dame, advanced to the Regional Finals, while the Terrapins and Fighting Irish each earned a trip to the Final Four. Notre Dame topped Maryland in the national semifinals, 87-61, but fell to Connecticut, 79-58, in the national final which was a battle of two unbeaten teams.
Six ACC student-athletes were named to the Associated Press All-America Team – the most of any conference – including two first team honorees. In total, the conference had three named to the USBWA All-America Team and the WBCA All-America Team.
Overall, the ACC’s women’s basketball programs continue to rank among the best in the country in terms of the postseason tournaments, having made 201 NCAA Tournament appearances and winning 279 games in the last 36 years. In addition to accolades such as sending three teams to the same Final Four for the first time in NCAA history in 2006, the league boasts such national accomplishments as sending at least one team to the “Sweet 16” for 33 consecutive seasons and at least one to the Final Four in 13 times. League membership accounts for 19 trips to the Final Four and two National Championships.
The ACC also won its sixth ACC/Big Ten Women’s Basketball Challenge in 2013-14 with a 7-5 edge in games on Dec. 4 and 5, 2013. The Challenge, which began in 2008, owns a 48-32 edge over the Big Ten in Challenge games and has won at least six Challenge games in all seven Challenges. The ACC and Big Ten conference offices determine the schedule each season, and matchups may not repeat from year-to-year in efforts to coordinate similar opponents and competitive equity. In addition, the official title will rotate each year.
Eight players have garnered national player of the year accolades, while competing under the ACC banner, and six league coaches have combined to earn 22 national coach of the year honors.
Beyond the college playing season, seven ACC representatives, including coaches and student-athletes, have participated in the Olympics. A pair of coaches served on staff in leading the U.S. to the 1988 Olympic gold medal, while multiple other coaches assisted in leading the country to four other Olympic gold.
Since the inaugural season of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) in 1997, the ACC has been a recognizable presence in the league. One hundred twenty-one (121) former ACC stars have played on the hardwood in the WNBA, while six former players have worked the sidelines as coaches. Nine ACC student-athletes were selected in the 2014 Women’s National Basketball Association Draft. The ACC saw a record seven players selected in the first round to lead all leagues, including picks 3-5 and 9-12. The ACC has had at least one player selected in the first round each of the last nine drafts.
In addition, ACC women’s basketball players have earned first-team Academic All-America honors 13 times, including Val Ackerman – the former President of the WNBA in 1981. Twenty-three players have earned ACC postgraduate scholarships, while three others were named NCAA Postgraduate Scholars.
Championships in 27 Sports
The conference will conduct championship competition in 27 sports during the 2014-15 academic year (13 for men and 14 for women). The first ACC championship was held in swimming on Feb. 25, 1954. The conference did not conduct championships in cross country, wrestling or tennis during the first year.
The 13 sports for men include football, cross country, soccer, basketball, fencing, swimming, indoor and outdoor track, wrestling, baseball, tennis, golf and lacrosse. Women’s sports were initiated in 1977 with the first championship meet held in tennis at Wake Forest University. Championships for women are currently conducted in cross country, field hockey, soccer, basketball, fencing, swimming, indoor and outdoor track, tennis, golf, lacrosse, softball and rowing, with volleyball deciding its champion by regular-season play.
Five National Championships in 2013-14
The 2013-14 academic year saw five ACC schools capture national team titles and nine student-athletes win individual NCAA crowns. In all, the ACC has won 67 national team titles over the last 17 years and has won two or more NCAA titles in 31 of the past 33 years. A total of 207 ACC teams took part in NCAA post-season play in 2013-14, including a record 193 in NCAA championships. League teams compiled a 153-90-4 (.628) mark in NCAA championship dual competition.
The Atlantic Coast Conference was founded on May 8, 1953, at the Sedgefield Inn near Greensboro, N.C., with seven charter members - Clemson, Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, North Carolina State, South Carolina and Wake Forest - drawing up the conference by-laws.
The withdrawal of seven schools from the Southern Conference came early on the morning of May 8, 1953, during the Southern Conference’s annual spring meeting. On June 14, 1953, the seven members met in Raleigh, N.C., where a set of bylaws was adopted and the name became officially the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Suggestions from fans for the name of the new conference appeared in the region’s newspapers prior to the meeting in Raleigh. Some of the names suggested were: Dixie, Mid-South, Mid-Atlantic, East Coast, Seaboard, Colonial, Tobacco, Blue-Gray, Piedmont, Southern Seven and the Shoreline.
Duke’s Eddie Cameron recommended that the name of the conference be the Atlantic Coast Conference, and the motion was passed unanimously. The meeting concluded with each member institution assessed $200 to pay for conference expenses.