Thursday September 28, 2023

New-Look ACC Will Prioritize Power 5 Status Over Media Revenue

  • Stanford, Cal, and SMU have reportedly agreed to give up major revenue in exchange for Power 5 status.
  • The move is a necessary insurance policy for the longevity of the ACC.
ACC Champion trophy on display during the ACC Kickoff Media Days event in downtown Charlotte, N.C. Wednesday, July 26, 2023.
Ken Ruinard / USA Today Network
Front Office Sports Today

Bucks Go All-In on Giannis Era

The Milwaukee Bucks altered the NBA by swinging a deal for Damian Lillard.
Listen Now
September 28, 2023 | Podcast
Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

Friday produced the realignment aftershock following the decimation of the Pac-12.

ACC university presidents have voted to invite Stanford, Cal, and SMU to the conference in 2024. On Thursday night, it was unclear whether the league would send invitations, as UNC said publicly that it was against expansion. The league needed 12 of 15 votes.

The ACC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Stanford and Cal will be able to maintain their status as Power 5 schools, while SMU will jump from a Group of 5 to a Power 5 — the latest step in a path to regain the powerhouse football program it boasted back in the 1980s.

For Power 5 status, however, the three schools will give up major revenue. 

Stanford and Cal have agreed to relinquish 70% of their shares of the ACC’s media rights deal for seven years, earning an increasing amount later on, a source confirmed to Front Office Sports. SMU will forgo all its media dollars for nine years.

The source noted, however, that the three schools will receive full shares of non-media rights revenue, like NCAA distributions. Tax returns suggest non-media ACC distributions would be about $9 million per school, which is about what SMU receives in total from the AAC.

For SMU, the assumption is that boosters will bridge the gap. The three schools likely won’t be able to use their multibillion-dollar endowments to fund the move, FOS previously reported. The decision is particularly surprising for Cal, which has the most athletic department debt of any school in the country at $450 million.

All three will face major travel costs.

ESPN will reportedly pay the conference a “pro rata” sum for each new school every year, according to multiple reports — meaning the network will add enough money to its existing contract that shares won’t be diluted. The current deal pays out a little more than $30 million per school, according to tax returns.

The overall revenue gain for the ACC is reportedly modest, at less than $60 million annually that all existing members will split. Some of the money, however, will reportedly be distributed through a performance-based fund — which has clearly placated at least one member who was against the move.

Expansion is a necessary insurance policy for the longevity of the ACC, which is anticipating the loss of top programs in the future to the ever-growing Super Conferences, an industry source told FOS. It likely needs to stay above 14 members to maintain the value of the current ESPN contract.

It could put the conference in a better negotiating position when the current contract expires in 2036. Though the source noted that it’s “anybody’s guess” whether these additions will make a difference in 13 years.

Now that the ACC has made a decision, all eyes will turn to Oregon State and Washington State. 

The schools have three possibilities: join the Mountain West, join the AAC, or poach schools to rebuild the Pac-12. 

Both Mountain West Commissioner Gloria Nevarez and AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco have reportedly already made proposals to the two leftovers.

But can they retain Power 5 status?  “That’s the central question, isn’t it,” Nevarez previously told FOS.

Washington State president Kirk Schulz has said that rebuilding the Pac-12 is his favorite option — though it’s clearly the least likely. Still, the schools could opt to bring the Pac-12’s name with them to the AAC or Mountain West. 

The Power 5 status of any newly minted conference, however, will have to be determined by voting committees in the NCAA and College Football Playoff, Nevarez noted.

The latest round of realignment began in 2021, when Texas and Oklahoma announced they would join the SEC. A year later, USC and UCLA announced they would go to the Big Ten — a factor in the ultimate demise of the Pac-12, which has now lost all but two members after failing to secure a lucrative media rights contract.

Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read


BioSteel Bankruptcy Shows Perils of Costly Sports Partnerships

BioSteel spent heavily on partnerships deals before bankruptcy.
Taylor Swift at Chiefs vs. Bears game.

Taylor Swift NFL Hype Likely To Continue Another Week

Swift could drive blockbuster TV ratings for NBC's "Sunday Night Football."

Lillard And Giannis Pairing Could Be Big For The NBA, Too

Bucks to be featured on national TV 19 times this season
Michigan State terminates Tucker's deal with cause amid sexual harassment allegations.

Michigan State's Firing of Mel Tucker Saves University $80M

MSU terminates deal with cause amid sexual harassment allegations.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

Bucks Go All-In on Giannis Era


Featured Today

Magic Johnson Open To Knicks Minority Ownership Stake

Basketball Hall of Famer only interested in specific NBA franchise
Golden State Warriors majority owner Joe Lacob walks alone the baseline during the third quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers at Chase Center.
September 27, 2023

Warriors Owner Reportedly Adding A Bay Area WNBA Franchise

An official announcement could come as soon as early October.
NFL concussions
September 27, 2023

The NFL’s $1B Battle Over Concussion Settlement Heats Up

The NFL is seeking at least $1.2 billion from its risk carriers.
September 26, 2023

NFL's Swift Mania Starting To Show Impact Through Merch Sales, Viewership

Taylor Swift stole the NFL's spotlight by attending Sunday's Chiefs game.


Powered By

Careers in Sports

Looking for a new job? Check out these featured listings and search for openings all over the world.
Chicago Cubs
New York
Tri Star Sports and Entertainment Group, Inc.
USA - Multiple Locations

Prime Effect: Colorado Athletics Sponsorship Revenue Up 42%

The Coach Prime impact is hitting all areas of the athletic department.
September 27, 2023

AAC Commissioner Open To CFP Format Change, Just Not Yet

Mike Aresco is not ready to vote for CFP structure changes.
A general view of Reser Stadium before a game between Oregon State Beavers and UC Davis Aggies.
September 27, 2023

Oregon State Projects 44% Athletics Revenue Loss From Pac-12 Realignment

Oregon St. officials reveal the potentially dire effects of Pac-12 realignment.
September 23, 2023

Up Next For College Football Playoffs: More Change, Money, And ... Streaming?

Many changes are coming to the CFP when it expands to 12 teams.
September 22, 2023

Texas, Oklahoma's Big 12 Exit Could Have Cost $60M More

The school's move to the SEC is costing about $100 million.
Tickets for Colorado’s upcoming road game against Oregon are more expensive than 14 of 16 Week 3 NFL matchups.
September 20, 2023

Deion Sanders' Impact Makes Tickets Pricier Than NFL Games

Colorado-Oregon tickets are pricier than most Week 3 NFL matchups.
Boise State Broncos running back Ashton Jeanty (2) runs the ball against the North Dakota Fighting Hawks during the first half at Albertsons Stadium.
September 20, 2023

The First Official Proposal for Promotion-Relegation In College Football

Realignment is forcing Group of 5 schools to rethink their structure.
Renderings of the University of Virginia's new proposed athletic facilities.
September 20, 2023

Virginia Joins The College Facilities Arms Race

UVA plans to upgrade football and Olympic sports facilities.