The ACC Men’s Basketball Player of the Year, Coach of the Year and all-ACC teams will be announced on the ACC Network on Monday morning, in what has become an annual ritual that takes place every spring like the arrival of the pollen.
Debate will ensue, as it always does, and the integrity and intelligence of the vote pool will be questioned, slandered and denigrated.
Before the mud is cast, one question: who votes for these awards anyway? For the first time, we have this answer. The News & Observer asked the ACC for the full list, which it agreed to provide.
(And why do they have such a pro-North Carolina bias? In fact, they don’t; it’s an ACC urban legend that has remarkable persistence.)
Since the 2017 season, the vote has been conducted by a panel constituted by the ACC whose composition, until now, has been largely secret. Each school selects three members of the media, one of whom in all but two cases is one of the team’s radio announcers; each head coach gets one vote; and there are still 20 general votes for a total of 80. Those, it turns out, all go to ESPN.
Complaints that the vote was geared towards North Carolina — the state’s school and schools, based on his personal biases — may have had a flicker of validity before 2017, when the vote was conducted by members of the Atlantic Conference Sports Media Association, an organization that had representative members when it was an eight- or nine-team league, but, after expansion, had almost none among the new additions. Although for all the complaints it was difficult to really pinpoint any injustice. (The ACSMA wasn’t responsible for the fact that Randolph Childress’ selection as the 1995 ACC Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player was not unanimous; that’s a whole other story.)
Yet rather than having a dueling series of awards – coaches versus media and so on, which happened in women’s basketball last week, where the ACC panel (which includes coaches) named one rookie of the year and the coaches (only) another — the ACC took control of the vote and split it school by school in an effort to achieve some sort of geographical balance.
“The goal each year is 100% attendance,” ACC spokesman Andy Fledderjohann said. “We get everyone’s approval in advance, rather than just blindly sending out ballots. Everyone who agrees to be on the panel is expected to vote.
There are still quirks in this process, of course. Due to radio announcers, coaches, and ESPN/ACC Network announcers, 61% of voters are employed, directly or indirectly, by the ACC or its partners. (Two of Boston College’s three “media” votes went to school employees, who, unlike coaches, are not prohibited from voting for their own players.)
Some of the media members who have covered the league for decades are not allowed to vote on awards presented by their employers. And in some markets, schools are nominating voters who undoubtedly wouldn’t qualify for a ballot in others — ironically, some of the schools that complained the most about the old process seem to have the hardest time finding electors to be named under the new one.
But there are always quirks in the reward process. That’s part of what makes a compelling argument. Just one example: there are no written nominees, and in 2020 Duke nominated Tre Jones for Player of the Year and Vernon Carey for Rookie of the Year, trying not to split the votes but declining to Carey any consideration for player of the year.
As for true transparency, publishing every ballot as seen in Associated Press football and basketball polls or in professional sports, from the NHL to the Baseball Hall of Fame , That will never happen. Coaches, of course, would never agree to this, although many members of the media release their ballots in the interests of honesty and integrity.
Yet, as with any award, poll, or honor, the arguments are a feature, not a bug. That will never change, though it should at least dispel any notion that there remains North Carolina bias in the vote. These four schools have the same pull as everyone else, and they certainly don’t vote as a block.
VOTING GROUP ALL ACC 2022
Andy Backstrom (BC), affiliate of Rivals.com
Earl Grant (BC), coach
Josh Maurer (BC), team radio host
Dan Rubin (BC), team website
Brad Brownell (Clemson), coach
Alexis Cubit (Clemson), State (of Columbia)
Don Munson (Clemson), team radio host
Terrence Oglesby (Clemson), The Field of 68
Mike Krzyzewski (Duke), coach
Brendan Marks (Duke), The Athletic
John Roth (Duke), team radio host
Steve Wiseman (Duke), The News & Observer
Gene Deckerhoff (FSU), team radio host
Leonard Hamilton (FSU), coach
Curt Weiler (FSU), Democrat of Tallahassee
Chris Nee (FSU), subsidiary of 247sports.com
Andy Demetra (GT), team radio host
Josh Pastner (GT), coach
Rivals.com Affiliate Kelly Quinlan (GT)
Ken Sugiura (GT), Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Brett Dawson (Louisville), Louisville Mail Journal
Jody Demling (Louisville), affiliate of 247sports.com
Mike Pegues (Louisville), coach
Paul Rogers (Louisville), team radio host
Michelle Kaufman (Miami), Miami Herald
Jim Larranaga (Miami), coach
Chris Stock (MiamI), subsidiary of 247sports.com
Joe Zagacki (Miami), team radio host
Jones Angell (UNC), team radio host
Greg Barnes (UNC), Inside Carolina Affiliate/247sports.com
CL Brown (UNC), The News & Observer
Hubert Davis (UNC), coach
Matt Carter (NC State), The Wolfpacker/On3.com affiliate
Kevin Keatts (NC State), coach
Jonas Pope (NC State), The News & Observer
Tristan Tucker (NC State), The Technician (student paper)
Mike Brey (Notre Dame), coach
Tom Noie (Notre Dame), South Bend Tribune
Tim Prister (Notre Dame), 247.com Affiliate
Tony Simeone (Notre Dame), team radio host
Jeff Capel (Pitt), coach
Jerry DiPaola (Pitt), Trib Total Media
Bill Hillgrove (Pitt), team radio host
Craig Meyer (Pitt), Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Jim Boeheim (Syracuse), coach
Steve Infanti (Syracuse), WSYR-TV
Matt Park (Syracuse), team radio host
Mike Waters (Syracuse), Syracuse Post-Standard
Mike Barber (Virginia), Richmond Times-Dispatch
Tony Bennett (Virginia), coach
Greg Madia (Virginia), The (Charlottesville) Daily Progress
Jimmy Miller (Virginia), team radio host
Mark Berman (VT), Roanoke Times
David Cunningham (VT), Tech Sideline
David Teel (VT), Richmond Times-Dispatch
Mike Young (VT), coach
Stan Cotten (WF), team radio host
Steve Forbes (WF), trainer
The Johns (WF), subsidiary of 247sports.com
Christian Odjakjian (WF), Old Gold and Black (student paper)
Cory Alexander (TV)
Jay Alter (TV)
Debbie Antonelli (TV)
Jay Bilas (TV)
Dan Bonner (TV)
Randolph Childress (TV)
Jordan Cornette (TV)
Dalen Cuff (TV)
Wes Durham (TV)
La Phonso Ellis (TV)
Luke Hancock (TV)
Malcolm Huckaby (TV)
Evan Lepler (TV)
Mike Monaco (TV)
Dave O’Brien (TV)
Kelsey Riggs (TV)
Anish Shroff (TV)
Tom Werme (TV)
The great debate
Opinion seems to have coalesced around Wake Forest’s Alondes Williams – with a chance to become the first player to lead the ACC in scoring and assists since the latter became a statistic in 1973 – in as the top contender for ACC Player of the Year, but North Carolina double-double machine Armando Bacot and Duke freshman star Paolo Banchero both have their supporters.
While Banchero is certain to be Rookie of the Year and NC State’s Dereon Seabron should be named Most Improved, there’s an interesting Defensive Player of the Year debate among Duke’s Mark Williams, Carolina’s Leaky Black from the North and Charlie Moore from Miami.
This story was originally published March 6, 2022 1:55 p.m.