Barry Jacobs, honored by Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)


By Laurie Paolicelli

Barry and Robin Jacobs

Barry Jacobs’ accomplishments and dedication to the projects he values have earned him many fans and possibly a few critics.

After all, does anybody who has served in public office for over two decades — while engaging in policymaking, community engagement, budget oversight, and representing constituents’ interests —satisfy everyone?

No. And to be a sports journalist in the Triangle — home to Duke, UNC, and NC State — makes that task even more difficult. But last month veteran ACC journalist and Hillsborough resident Barry Jacobs traveled to Washington DC, where he was honored as the 2024 recipient of the Marvin ‘Skeeter’ Francis Award. The award is named in memory of Marvin ‘Skeeter’ Francis, who served as the longtime sports information director at Wake Forest and the first administrator of the ACC’s media services division.

The Award, presented by the Atlantic Coast Sport Media Association (ACSMA) recognizes individuals for distinguished service to, or coverage of, the ACC.

Anyone who lives in Orange County and has followed basketball — as well as its politics — knows Barry.

He may have started his career as an outsider, but Barry is an Orange County legacy builder. In 2018 he was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine granted by Governor Roy Cooper, the highest honor for service to North Carolina through exemplary service and exceptional accomplishments.

Jacobs has made a deep impact on the Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough communities. He helped to create and promote the Orange County Lands Legacy program which provides for the acquisition and protection of highly important natural and cultural resource lands. Jacobs has also long supported a living wage and helped ensure that Orange County does offer a living wage for all county employees. He’s also supported funding for Orange County and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, making sure that every single school has a full-time nurse.

Barry Jacobs talks with the late Reverend Robert Seymour at an Orange County event.

A Queens, N.Y. native and 1972 Duke University graduate, Jacobs has covered ACC basketball for nearly 50 years, written for many publications, including his own, Barry Jacobs’ Fan’s Guide to ACC Basketball.

Jacobs is also the author of five books, all ACC-related. “For decades he was the “prose laureate” for the ACC because his knowledge and sense of the history of the conference — its teams, players, coaches and fans — made him a living legend,” says Freddie Kiger, who is known by his colleagues as a walking encyclopedia of ACC basketball knowledge.

Fan Guide to ACC Basketball published by Barry Jacobs

But his work away from the basketball court has garnered him just as much coverage, especially where local politics and local media intersect.

As a commissioner Barry took a special interest in affordable housing, local agriculture, environmental protection, recycling and solid waste, land use and social justice, to name a few.

Committed to regional approaches to problems, he was a board member of the Triangle J Council of Governments, the Triangle Area Rural Planning Organization and the Piedmont Food and Agricultural Processing Center, chairing each group for several years. 

Supporting Piedmont Food and Processing Center with Jenn Weaver, Representative Renee Price and Congresswoman Val Foushee.

He currently supervises Moorefields, a historic site and wildlife refuge near Hillsborough, N.C. “Barry is passionate about keeping Orange County unique by protecting its legacy farms, historic properties, and important natural areas,” says Rich Shaw, Hillsborough resident, who has worked with Barry for 25 years as an Orange County employee, friend, and partner in conserving natural and cultural resources.

“Preserving historical buildings ends up attracting more tourists and supports local economies because visitors want to experience authenticity,” says Mark Bell, Hillsborough Mayor and former Orange County Visitors Bureau Chair. “Barry’s directed many annual events at Moorefields, including bluegrass music concerts, wildflower walks and civil rights discussions. It’s always a treat to sit on their expansive lawn and lose yourself for a few hours.”

Pam Hemminger, who served as the mayor of Chapel Hill from 2015 to 2023, is a big fan as well. “Barry Jacobs is a talented writer, a sports enthusiast, a dedicated public servant and a staunch environmentalist,” she says. “I have had the pleasure to work alongside of him for 16 years.”

He is married to Robin Lackey Jacobs, an attorney in Orange County, and supports, and in turn is supported by a dog, Carter, and Eleanor, a cat.

Says Kiger, “Barry Jacobs has been at this for a long time and has a vast body of work about the conference. It’s wonderful to see his contributions recognized and properly honored.”

Events at Historic Moorefields are open to the public.

Mark Your Calendar for these Scheduled Moorefields 2024 Events

  • Sunday, May 4: Birding Hike at 8:00 am
  • Saturday, May 11: Wildflowers and Creek Surrounds at 10:00 am
  • Sunday, May 26: Last Sunday House Tours
  • Sunday, June 30: Last Sunday House Tours
  • Sunday, July 28: Last Sunday House Tours
  • Sunday, August 25: Last Sunday House Tours
  • Saturday, October 5: Bluegrass Festival

For more Moorefields event information, visit:

About Moorefields

Moorefields was built in 1785 as a summer home by Alfred Moore, a Revolutionary military leader, founder of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and prominent jurist who ultimately served as the second and last North Carolinian on the United States Supreme Court. The house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 by Edward Draper-Savage, an artist and UNC French professor. The 70 acres of woodlands and permanent pasture at Moorefields are currently maintained as a wildlife refuge.

Laurie Paolicelli is executive director for the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau, a position she has held since 2005. Laurie has worked in tourism and marketing for twenty-five years, having served in leadership roles in Houston and California convention and visitor bureaus. She is a native of the Twin Ports of Duluth, MN/Superior Wisconsin. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business and Communications from the University Wisconsin-Superior and graduate certification in Technology In Marketing from the UNC-Chapel Hill’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media. This reporter can be reached at

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