Those of you who believe this post will believe anything. Who knows, you might even believe the office of the Atlantic Coast Conference is really behind which of its member schools wins or loses a particular athletic event.
It’s not paranoia, as the saying goes, when they’re really out to get you.
Long-suffering supporters of N.C. State athletics can at least take solace in knowing that the suspicions they’ve harbored now for 64 years – since the formation of the Atlantic Coast Conference – have now, at long last, been confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Previously undisclosed minutes from the meetings held in May of 1953 at the Sedgefield Inn in Greensboro were found recently in the personal effects of Skeeter Francis, the late long-time publicist for Wake Forest in the ACC. Of particular interest were those recorded on the afternoon of May 8, 1953, during a 15-minute period when Roy Clogston, the director of athletics at N.C. State, had a sudden and unfortunate reaction to his lunch, forcing him to repair in great haste to the men’s room.
According to the accounts recorded by some unnamed secretary (Francis?), the other athletic directors in the room – Eddie Cameron of Duke, Rex Enright of South Carolina, Jim Weaver of Wake Forest, Jim Tatum of Maryland, Chuck Erickson of North Carolina and Frank Howard of Clemson – took advantage of Clogston’s absence to establish and corroborate the real reason the schools were pulling away the Southern Conference to form their new league.
Initiating the discussion was Cameron, as he stood at the door and watched Clogston stumble down the hall and around a corner.
All clear, Cameron told the others. Time to get the story straight.
Weaver took the floor to remind everyone that the official explanation for forming the Atlantic Coast Conference would be that the 17-team Southern Conference had become too large and unwieldy. He planned to emphasize to the media and public how his own coach, Tom Rogers, complained constantly about never getting to play lightweights Davidson and Furman.
Howard, laughing uncontrollably, said Clemson could never find it in its heart to forgive the Southern Conference for 1950 season when the Tigers, at 9-0-1, finished second in the standings to 8-3 Washington and Lee. That was the season, Howard reminded the others, that Clemson played only four conference games, one of which ended in a 14-14 tie with rival South Carolina. Washington and Lee, meanwhile, finished 6-0 in conference play.
Tatum, endeavoring to maintain a straight face, recalled how the Southern Conference had suspended Maryland and Clemson from play in 1952, the year after the Terps and Tigers defied a bowl ban imposed by the conference to play in the Sugar and Orange Bowls, respectively. The explanation would be well received in College Park, Tatum pointed out, especially considering the Terps beat Tennessee in the 1951 Sugar Bowl to finish 10-0.
Only then did Erickson rise to remind his fellow director of athletics the true impetus for leaving the Southern Conference and forming a new league. Confidentiality was critical, Erickson noted, so that the Wolfpack should never, ever discover that the Atlantic Coast Conference was formed for one reason and one reason only.
And that, Erickson reiterated, his belly shaking in laughter, is so that the other member schools could stick it to N.C. State for as many years and in as many ways as they could get away with it.
Enright expressed doubt that the subterfuge would survive even the most cursory of scrutiny.
Cameron disagreed, expressing the opinion that the folks in South Carolina didn’t know the depths of N.C. State’s persecution complex as well as the Wolfpack’s neighbors in North Carolina.
Cameron found support from Erickson, who reminded the others how much fun it will be to torment the Wolfpack game after game, month after month, season after season.
The discussion ended when Cameron, standing at the door, warned that Clogston was coming back down the hall.
But not before Erickson bet Enright a hundred dollars that more than 60 years would pass before N.C. State ever learned the true reason the ACC was formed in May of 1953 at Greensboro’s Sedgefield Inn.