Fred Barakat Sports Dinner Presented by The Carroll Companies Nets Nearly $100,000 for Matt Brown Learn-to-Swim Endowment Fund


GREENSBORO, N.C. – When Clemson University Football Coach Dabo Swinney speaks, people will come. A record crowd of more than 800 people attended the 2022 Fred Barakat Sports Dinner presented by The Carroll Companies on April 12, 2022, and the result is the largest contribution to the Matt Brown Learn-to-Swim Endowment Fund to date, the Greensboro Sports Council announced today. Founded in 2008, The Fred Barakat Sports Dinner was renamed in 2011 in memory of the late associate commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

A total of 811 people attended the dinner in the Greensboro Coliseum Complex special event center, and those people, along with many generous corporate partners, generated $95,194.84 for the Matt Brown Learn-to-Swim endowment which was created in 2017 to help fund the Greensboro Aquatic Center’s Learn-to-Swim program. Sixty-one percent of all children and 64 percent of African American children do not know how to swim; drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional injury death in the United States.

“When Coach Swinney agreed to speak at this event, we had a pretty good idea it would be very successful, but I don’t think any of us realized it would do this well,” Greensboro Sports Council president Brett Weathersbee said. “We are so incredibly appreciative of Coach Swinney’s commitment to this event, but we also appreciate his generosity. As a small token of our appreciation, we presented Coach Swinney with a $5,000 donation to Dabo’s All in Team Foundation during the dinner, but later that evening, he gave the check back to us and asked that we donate it to the Matt Brown Learn-to-Swim Endowment. That’s the kind of person he is – we thank him for making the Fred Barakat Sports Dinner one of the best ever.”

The Learn-to-Swim program, which is mostly privately funded, aims to teach every second-grade student attending the Guilford County Schools water-safety skills at no cost to the family. Less than 55 percent of the current second-grade students are able to participate in Learn-to-Swim due to a lack of funding. The Matt Brown Learn-to-Swim Endowment was created to eventually make water-safety lessons available for all second-grade students. For additional information on the Learn-to-Swim program or to make a donation, please visit

Coach Swinney was scheduled to speak at this event in May of 2020, but it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was rescheduled for 2021 only to be postponed again and finally rescheduled successfully for April 12. Plans for the 2023 Fred Barakat Sports Dinner are underway; the speaker is not yet confirmed.

Barakat joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in 1981 as the supervisor of men’s basketball officials. He was later named assistant commissioner and was then promoted to associate commissioner, director of men’s basketball. For 16 years he served as the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament director along with his other basketball responsibilities that included scheduling, managing the league’s television partners and officiating. He passed away in 2010.

The Fred Barakat Sports Dinner highlights significant figures in or related to the Atlantic Coast Conference or one of its sports. Previous featured guests at the event are former ACC commissioner Gene Corrigan, Duke University Men’s Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski, ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale, best-selling author John Feinstein, Syracuse University Men’s Basketball Coach Jim Boeheim, ESPN college basketball analyst and Duke alumnus Jay Bilas, CBS Sports college basketball analyst Clark Kellogg and CBS Sports golf analyst Gary McCord.

The dinner occasionally features roundtable discussions such as “Legends of the ACC” with Duke’s Mike Gminski, North Carolina’s Phil Ford, NC State’s Derrick Whittenburg and Wake Forest’s Randolph Childress, “Coaches of the ACC” featuring Wake Forest’s Dave Odom, Maryland’s Gary Williams, Georgia Tech’s Bobby Cremins and NC State’s Les Robinson and a reunion of the 1974 NC State University NCAA National Championship team with David Thompson, Monte Towe, Tommy Burleson and assistant coach Eddie Biedenbach.

Founded in 1959, the Greensboro Sports Council is the official host organization of the Greensboro Coliseum Complex providing hospitality, resources and community interaction for events held at the Coliseum Complex. The Sports Council supports sports events in Greensboro and Guilford County such as the ACC Basketball Tournaments, Wyndham Championship PGA TOUR event, AAU Junior Olympic Games, U.S. Figure Skating Championships, the ACC Swimming and Diving Championships, various NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships, the ACC Women’s Golf Tournament at Sedgefield Country Club, the United States Olympic Committee Table Tennis Olympic Trials, the ACC Baseball Tournament when applicable as well as any NCAA Championships hosted in the area.

In addition, the Council hosts the HAECO Invitational high school basketball tournament each December. Founded in 1976, this annual event donates its proceeds to charity and the participating schools each year.

Courtesy of Rob Goodman, 3-G Sports, LLC