Could realignment be in the ACC’s future?

Could realignment be in the ACC’s future?


Could realignment be in the ACC’s future?

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COVID-19 is already starting to impact the finances in other sports at major universities across the country

Some have wondered what the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic might have on college athletics once the sports world can go back to normal or what the new normal might be, especially at the Power 5 and Group of 5 level.

Though a lot of people seem focused on football and what its future holds, COVID-19 is already starting to impact the finances in other sports at major universities across the country. Of course, the pandemic shut down the entire spring athletic season, canceling the men’s and women’s NCAA Basketball Tournaments, conference tournaments, as well as the College World Series for baseball and softball.

Schools like Oregon, Oregon State and Wake Forest have already taken measures to help them address financial issues caused by the pandemic. Last week, Wake head football coach Dave Clawson joined athletic director John Currie, school president Nathan Hatch and the president’s cabinet members in taking a 10-percent pay cut.

Oregon State’s coaches and athletic director did the same, last week. On April 3, Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens and President Michael Schill took voluntary pay cuts.

Things are not as dire at Clemson, at this point. The impact on Clemson Athletics’ 2019-’20 fiscal year is just a little more than a $1 million. In fact, the athletic department reported to the Board of Trustees on April 1 an estimated net of $1,038,000 will be lost for the last three months of the spring semester.

“We are blessed with some reserves and we will have a slight loss and most of that loss will be due to the fact the NCAA Basketball Tournament left a hole in the ACC distribution,” Clemson’s director of athletics, Dan Radakovich, said last week on the Mickey Plyler Show on 105.5 FM in Clemson. “But there are even some ways that the ACC is looking to help with that.

“But be as it may, FY ’20, which ends June 30, we will be okay. The bigger question really, and a lot of the scheming and scenario making, is really looking at FY ’21 … normal circumstance, full football season, but will everybody come back. We hope they will. We hope everybody comes back, but there is that school of thought that maybe attendance will not be what it has been the last few years. Then a shortened football season, then of course no football at all. All of those things are being put into some opportunities for us to model and make sure we do the thing that is right for Clemson.”

The Clemson Insider has learned in researching these very topics the last couple of weeks, that Clemson and other ACC athletic departments are concerned about the future of their non-revenue sports and how all this could impact them and the conference going forward.

The number one concern, if and when things get back to some sort of normalcy, is the cost of travel for the non-revenue sports. Prior to COVID-19, this issue was already a strain on athletic departments in the ACC, especially for schools like Boston College, Syracuse, and Miami. They are so extreme north and south, their non-revenue sports have to fly for most of their road events. Those are costs that schools like Clemson, and others in the ACC’s original footprint, don’t have to absorb as much during the athletic season.

What does it mean? Does it mean the ACC could realign?

Yes and no? TCI has learned the conference’s athletic departments have discussed amongst themselves the possibility of realigning, but within the conference. In other words, they could realign the divisions.

These realignments, however, would be for the non-revenue sports so they can be more regionalized, helping to cut the cost of travel.

TCI was told non-revenue sports have been prudent to the conversations athletic departments across the conference have had. There are some geographical concerns from a financial standpoint. Does it make sense for the Miami volleyball team to fly 1,500 miles to Boston for a conference match?

TCI was told nothing is going to happen right now, but once everything gets back to whatever normal is going to be, then these questions will be brought up to the conference.

From what we have heard, this should not affect football and the way it has already set up its divisions because the television market for football is a big deal. Remember, John Swofford told the media several years back, at the ACC Football Kickoff, that football drives 80 percent of the money the conference will earn off the television revenue packages.

TCI will have more discussion on this topic and others related to the virus in Monday night’s Insider Report.

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