By Will Vandervort.
By Will Vandervort.
By Will Vandervort
A little more than a week ago, Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich, in not so many words, told national radio show host Mark Packer of SiriusXM that the Atlantic Coast Conference was working on a plan that could possibly lead the conference to having its own television network, while further solidifying its members.
That plan was revealed Monday when the ACC announced that each of the current and future 15-member institutions signed a grant of media rights, effective immediately.
“This announcement further highlights the continued solidarity and commitment by our member institutions,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said. “The Council of Presidents has shown tremendous leadership in insuring the ACC is extremely well positioned with unlimited potential.”
So what does this all mean exactly? It means we can actually have a summer without talking about conference expansion.
Though things simmered down after rumors of Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Virginia were being courted by the Big Ten, you just knew it was a matter of time before all the speculation and false rumors started up again, especially with the academic year winding down and the long dog days of summer ahead without any football.
But the ACC, which began all this expansion and conference reshuffling in 2004 when it raided the Big East, convincing Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech to move, may have ended the expansion era with this latest agreement.
Most pundits felt the ACC was the weakest of the five big conferences remaining, and it was just a matter of time before the Big Ten, SEC or Big 12 came and raided schools like Clemson, Florida State, UNC, Georgia Tech and Virginia.
At one point, there were some out there saying Georgia Tech was jumping ship and headed to the Big Ten. Maybe that was the case, maybe not. Regardless it did not happen and the ACC kept plowing through, working on a deal that would solidify the conference and give it a chance to become stronger in the future.
By the member school’s agreeing to a grant of media rights deal, it will be hard for any conference to want to come in and grab a school away from the ACC now. What the school’s agreed to on Monday makes the $50 million exist fee put in place last summer seem small.
The ACC is the fourth major conference to approve a grant of media rights, joining the Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12.
“Collectively, we all agree the grant of rights further positions the ACC and its current and future member schools as one of the nation’s premier conferences,” said the collective ACC Council of Presidents.
And that future looks brighter. Now the conference can seriously begin talks with ESPN on a new contract and the possibility, which is very strong now, of starting its own television network. ESPN was reluctant to talk to the ACC about a television network until it felt certain the possibility of any further subtraction was over with.
In other words, ESPN wanted to make sure the ACC and its members were as one.
With Louisville—who just won a national championship in men’s basketball, played for it in women’s basketball and beat up SEC power Florida in the Sugar Bowl—joining the conference in 2014, plus the additions of Notre Dame, Syracuse and Pittsburgh in the fall, the ACC’s new TV package could exceed way more than $20 million.
As far getting a television network, as Radakovich told Packer, no conference hits more major television markets than the ACC, which has school’s from Miami, FL all the way to Boston, Mass. That makes the ACC very attractive when it comes to looking into its own network deal.
“The added resources coming to the ACC schools will have a significant impact on the success of our athletic programs,” Florida State president Eric J. Barron said in a statement to the Associated Press. “We are also very pleased that we will be moving forward on the next phase of developing an ACC network.”
A phase that begins with the ACC finally unified as one, again. With the 60th Anniversary of the ACC coming this fall, Monday’s deal was not a bad way to start celebrating it.