As the two super leagues of the SEC and Big Ten take shape, college sports administrators have reportedly discussed mergers of other Power 5 conferences.
UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham and university president Kevin Guskiewicz discussed the idea of a merger between the ACC and the Pac-12 or Big 12, according to text messages obtained by The News and Observer.
- “Should we explore a partnership with the Big 12 or Pac 12(?)” Cunningham texted.
- Guskiewicz replied: “We could have a super conference both athletically and academically. Probably would need to be called the Atlantic-Pacific Athletic Conference (APAC).”
In 2021, the ACC, Big Ten, and Pac-12 created an informal alliance — which is presumably dead now that the Big Ten has poached two prominent Pac-12 members, UCLA and USC.
The conferences remain tight-lipped about how far those new discussions have gone.
The ACC didn’t provide an additional comment in response to an FOS inquiry, instead referring to previous public comments made by commissioner Jim Phillips, who said the conference was evaluating options but wouldn’t elaborate.
The Pac-12 declined to comment on the discussions, and the Big 12 did not respond to a request for comment.
A Happy Marriage?
This summer, the Big Ten inked a mid-$7 billion media deal. In 2020, the SEC signed a deal with Disney that will pay out $3 billion — only part of its full media rights package.
In order to compete, the three conferences need to garner much larger media rights packages, but they may need to beef up their inventories — by adding new members.
A merger could be one way to do so — as Guskiewicz noted in his texts.