February 26, 2024
“I want Cal and Stanford to die on the vine,” UNC women's soccer coach Anson Dorrance said.

As Stanford and Cal continue holding out hope they are invited to the Atlantic Coast Conference in the realignment game, one prominent ACC coach is blasting the potential move.

Legendary North Carolina women’s soccer coach Anson Dorrance does not want to add the two Bay Area schools to the East Coast conference — and wasn’t shy about letting his feelings be known.

“I want Cal and Stanford to die on the vine,” Dorrance said in an interview with WRAL, a television station in Raleigh.

The ACC has reportedly met to consider adding the Cardinal and the Bears, but at least four schools are reportedly not in favor of the expansion move. A potential meeting scheduled for Tuesday was canceled.

The moves being made in college athletics are mostly centered around football, but would impact other sports, too. That includes women’s soccer, where Dorrance has been the coach of North Carolina since 1979 and Stanford has recently emerged as a national powerhouse in the sport, winning three national championships (2011, 2017 and 2019).

Dorrance heaped praise towards both schools’ athletic programs in addition to their academic profiles, noting Stanford’s longtime dominance of the Directors’ Cup (it has won 26 of 29 overall).

But while he sees how the ACC and its commissioner Jim Phillips could see the move as a “feather in the cap,” Dorrance says the potential move would be “horrible” for the coaches and players “with boots on the ground.”

“Our budgets aren’t extraordinary as it is, so now we’re going to add in flights across the country to play these two schools, which will be incredibly expensive,” Dorrance said.

Dorrance also said he believes adding Stanford and Cal to the ACC would dramatically help the two Bay Area schools’ national recruiting platforms.

“It will benefit them, not us,” Dorrance said. “We’ve built the best women’s soccer conference in the country, and there’s no way I want to share the glory of our conference with two schools that could do a very good job of recruiting against us.”

Dorrance has built the preeminent college women’s soccer program in Chapel Hill, having won 21 national championships. But the Tar Heels haven’t won a national title since 2012, which included losing in the title game to Stanford in 2019. So while he has budgetary concerns, it’s clear he’s thinking about on-field impact, too.

“Stanford is a very difficult school to recruit against, and I would look forward to them basically having it be so difficult to recruit the elite soccer players,” Dorrance said. “And then we would be in an even better position to gain those kids and put the ACC in a stronger position.”

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There isn’t a great consensus about whether the potential move to the ACC is for the best for Stanford and Cal, and the Pac-12 Hotline’s Jon Wilner believes the ACC interest in the Bay Area’s schools could pressure the Big Ten to add the schools to its group of four West Coast additions from the Pac-12: Oregon, UCLA, USC and Washington.

But the ACC isn’t guaranteed to be a landing spot, either. And Dorrance is one of the most prominent coaches out east to voice his opinion against the move.

“In some ways, I see why Jim is interested in this, but for those of us who have to work and pay for it, no,” Dorrance said. “And these are schools that, they’re in trouble. It’s going to be harder and harder and harder for them to recruit, and that is good for the rest of us in the ACC.”