The ACC was the last major college sports conference to get in on this summer’s expansion and realignment mania — but league leadership is confident that its moves will be positive in the long term.
“We are a national conference,” commissioner Jim Phillips said on Wednesday at the ACC Tipoff event in Charlotte ahead of the upcoming college basketball season. “We’ve been a regional conference. Two years ago, would we have done this? Probably not. But times have changed, and you either get on the offensive, or you don’t.”
In 2024, the SEC will add Oklahoma and Texas, the Big Ten will bring in Oregon, UCLA, USC, and Washington, and the Big 12 will welcome Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, and Utah. After all of the moves were made, the ACC voted to expand to 18 members (17 playing football) by adding California, Stanford, and SMU.
Phillips said getting to 18 “protects” the ACC should any of its members go elsewhere and puts the conference “right where we should be.”
SMU has secured $200 million from donors to help it compete in football, but Cal and Stanford have much lower athletic budgets and haven’t produced a winning record or any bowl appearances this decade. “You can look at a moment in time … But in totality, I feel really good about what they can do in the ACC, and so does the membership,” Phillips said.
Army Taking SMU’s Spot
When SMU leaves the American Athletic Conference next year, the void will reportedly be filled by Army, which will join the Group of 5 conference as a football-only member. The Army-Navy game will continue at the end of the season as a non-conference game, as both schools will now be AAC members.