Consistency. It’s 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 45th 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
Since the league’s inception in 1953, ACC schools have captured 59 NCAA and AIAW championships,
including 27 in men’s competition and 32 in women’s. In addition, 100 men and 24 women have
earned the coveted title of NCAA champion.
The conference had an immediate impact on the national college football scene in the fall
of 1953 when the University of Maryland captured the first of what would eventually be four
national football titles for the ACC.
The ACC is one of only two conferences to capture three or more national football titles
since 1980. Clemson laid claim to the league’s second national title in 1981, Georgia Tech
followed suit in 1990 while Florida State pocketed national title No. four in 1994.
The nine schools that take to the field this fall under the ACC banner have produced 322 first
or second team gridiron All-Americas and 49 first-team academic All-Americas. ACC teams have
had 1,358 players selected in the annual professional football draft, including 90 first round
selections. A year ago, 164 players from the nine current ACC schools played in the NFL during
the regular season or playoffs.
If success is best measured in terms of wins and losses, then the ACC over the years has proved
itself to be among the elite in Division I-A football. The ACC remains the nation’s winningest
bowl conference as the nine current league teams are a combined 76-66-5 (.534) in post-season
play, including a 22-16-1 mark since 1987.
Two ACC teams, Florida State and Georgia Tech, are tied as the nation’s winningest bowl teams.
Among teams with 16-or-more bowl appearances, the Yellow Jackets are No. 1 with a 17-8 (.680)
post-season record while the Seminoles are fifth at 15-8-2 (.640).
The ACC also stands at the forefront of intercollegiate athletics in terms of academic
accomplishments of its student athletes. Eleven times over the past 17 years, an ACC member
school has claimed the CFA Academic Achievement Award which is awarded to a CFA member
institution with the highest graduate rate among members of its football team.
This past year Duke, for the ninth time, received the CFA Award with a perfect 100 percent
graduation rate. In addition four other ACC institutions — Florida State, North Carolina,
Virginia and Wake Forest were accorded honorable mention for having graduation rates of 70
percent or better.
The ACC’s 1996-97 national champions were North Carolina in women’s soccer and field hockey and
Maryland in women’s lacrosse. In addition the ACC had two other teams participate in national
title games — Florida State in football and Maryland in men’s lacrosse. Overall, the ACC posted
a 54-48 (.529) mark in NCAA Tournament play.
The ACC placed at least one team in the Top 10 nationally in 16 of the 24 sports sponsored by the
league. Other records of note during the 1996-97 season include 84 teams competing at NCAA
Championships, four bowl teams and 33 Top 10 showings.
Seven ACC teams, in six different sports representing five of the nine member institutions,
earned a No. 1 ranking during the course of the past academic year.
The ACC Academic Honor Roll record was broken for the 11th-straight year in 1995-96 as 1,410
student-athletes were recognized for their work in the classroom.
The first ACC championship was held in swimming on February 25, 1954. The conference did not
conduct championships in cross country, wrestling or tennis during the first year.
The 12 sports for men include football, cross country, soccer, basketball, swimming, indoor and
outdoor track, wrestling, baseball, tennis, golf and lacrosse. Fencing, which was started in
1971, was discontinued in 1981.
Women’s sports were initiated in 1977 with the first championship meet being held in tennis at
Wake Forest University, October 6-8. Conference championships for women are currently conducted
in cross country, volleyball, field hockey, soccer, basketball, swimming, indoor and outdoor
track, tennis, golf, lacrosse and softball.
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 become officially
the Atlantic Coast Conference.
On December 4, 1953, conference officials met again at Sedgefield and officially admitted the
University of Virginia. The first, and only, withdrawal of a school from the ACC came on
June 30, 1971 when the University of South Carolina tendered its resignation.
The conference operated with seven members until April 3, 1978, when Georgia Tech was
admitted. The Atlanta school had withdrew from the Southeastern Conference in January of 1964.
The ACC expanded to nine members on July 1, 1991, with the addition of Florida State.