The Atlantic Coast Conference turns 64 years old this year. Somehow, over all that time, no one has ever assembled an ACC Hall of Fame.
Sure, there have been attempts to honor great players of the past. Each year, the ACC names a class of ACC Legends, who are honored at the football championship game and basketball tournaments. The league also named 50th anniversary teams in its various sports back in 2002. The ACC also opened a Hall of Champions in Greensboro in 2011, which features memorabilia from all the member schools.
Even members of the media have gotten into the act. Longtime Winston-Salem writer Dan Collins came out with the “ACC Basketball Book of Fame” in 2013, where he used a points system to name the greatest players in conference history.
Still, there’s been nothing like Cooperstown, Canton or Springfield—where a panel of experts select the greatest to ever compete.
So, we’ve decided to fix that oversight.
Raleigh & Company proudly introduces the ACC Hall of Fame. We’ll be inducting our first class this week, in men’s basketball. In the fall, we’ll unveil our first football class, and eventually, we’ll choose the greatest ever across all sports.
It wasn’t an easy task, so we enlisted some help. More than 20 media members, who have covered the ACC for more than 400 combined years, submitted ballots.
We were intentionally vague on the criteria. We simply asked them to give us a list of ACC Basketball Hall of Famers. We told them to select based on collegiate achievements, not their subsequent pro careers.
And that was it. Everything else—from how many to choose to who is eligible—was up to them to decide.
If you’ve been around the ACC media at all, you know that there were some differences of opinion and heated debates.
The first was over the size of the class.
There was a sizeable group of voters who thought that the first Hall of Fame class should be the true elites. The Baseball Hall of Fame inducted Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner, and Babe Ruth in its first year, leaving dozens of legends waiting for enshrinement.
“First class should be limited to the most special,” said one voter.
“The inaugural class should be the best of the best,” said another.
“I’ve always thought that when you start a hall of fame that you need to induct only the absolute best in the inaugural class. So here are the cornerstone picks as I see them,” said yet another.
More than a quarter of our panel listed fewer than 10 names on their ballot. The fewest anyone selected was five.
There was another large block of voters that wanted to go from zero to Cooperstown and submitted their list of everyone who should be in the ACC Hall of Fame. Forty percent of our panel selected more than 30 people. The most on any one ballot was 73.
We used the same criteria that the Baseball Hall of Fame uses—a candidate needed to be listed on 75 percent of ballots to make the Hall of Fame. Anyone that fell short will go back into the pool and be eligible for induction next February.
A total of 118 different men’s and women’s players and coaches received votes1. There were 67 that received votes from more than one panelist. Thirteen got more than 50 percent of the vote.
In the end, the “best-of-the-best” block won out. We have a half dozen Hall of Famers in our inaugural class.
The media panel did agree on one thing—one of our choices was unanimous. The other five were all left off of at least two ballots each.
The group is, by all measures, the best the ACC has to offer. All six are members of the College Basketball Hall of Fame. Five are also in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. While members of the ACC, the six combined for 33 ACC Tournament Titles, 10 NCAA titles, 30 Final Fours, seven Player of the Year awards, 16 Coach of the Year Awards and seven Olympic gold medals.
We’ll unveil them, two at a time, this week. The first two (including the unanimous choice) will be posted Tuesday morning, with two more Wednesday and two on Thursday, as the lead-in to the first Carolina-Duke game of the year.
On Friday, we’ll unveil the full ballot, along with voting percentages. We’ll also have a discussion of the biggest snubs—three people fell one vote shy of 75 percent.
Thanks to everyone who participated. We proudly give you The ACC Hall of Fame.
Let the arguing begin.
- We’ll be doing a separate Women’s Basketball class later this year ↩