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Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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SMU Pays Way Into ACC With $200M From Boosters

  • SMU is moving to the ACC from the American Athletic Conference in 2024.
  • Big donations will make up for SMU agreeing to receive no media revenue upon entry.
Jordan Hofeditz/Reporter-News/USA TODAY NETWORK

The financial reality of Southern Methodist University’s 2024 move to the ACC could set a new standard for schools with equally wealthy boosters.

To make up for foregoing media rights revenue distribution for its first nine years in the conference, influential SMU donor David Miller was able to get $200 million in donation commitments from the school’s richest boosters, according to Yahoo Sports.

That equates to about $22.2 million a year — which will help make up a major chunk of the $30 million annual revenue gap between SMU and the ACC’s current 14 members. 

The ACC was concerned SMU wouldn’t be able to compete without that money, per the report.

Last year, SMU received $9 million in American Athletic Conference revenue distribution, but the business of the Mustangs is much bigger than that. Annual donations to SMU’s athletic department have typically been around $15-20 million, according to the school’s president Gerald Turner — similar to donations received by ACC schools like North Carolina and other Power 5 universities like Arizona, Arkansas and Purdue.

When Miller met with the top boosters to seal the move to the ACC, the combined net worth of the room was believed to be about $15 billion.

“It’s a couple hundred million dollars,” Miller said. “I’m not losing sleep over it.”

Miller’s self-described “business transaction” in moving SMU to the ACC could significantly tilt the balance in funding between individual schools and their conferences.

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