Now here’s something unexpected…
David Glenn of WCMC-FM in Raleigh — that’s not him at left — is reporting today that the schools of the ACC will soon announce a “unanimous 15 school agreement extending” a grant of media rights to the league office. If/when such a move occurs, it will likely serve as an emergency brake for the runaway train known as conference realignment.
According to Glenn, who is also the publisher of the ACC Sports Journal at ACCSports.com, the deal is expected to run through the conclusion of the current ACC/ESPN television contract in 2027.
ESPN’s Brett McMurphy has confirmed the report through his own ACC sources and David Teel of The Daily Press in Hampton Roads, Virginia has reported that the GOR was distributed to ACC schools three to four weeks ago for their review.
So what does this mean?
* It means John Swofford has solidified his Atlantic Coast Conference. That was a Herculean task with Jim Delany and the Big Ten bearing down on his league. Kudos to the ACC commish.
* It means that any school attempting to leave the ACC prior to 2027 would have to forfeit its rights (ie: television money) back to the ACC regardless of what league it wound up in. Not only would the school lose millions upon millions of dollars, but any league looking to add an ACC school would — theoretically — see no real financial reward from bringing in said school.
* It means the Big Ten, Big XII and SEC won’t be making raids for schools such as Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Duke, NC State, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Florida State, or Miami as many had expected and some had hoped.
And before you start wondering, there are already reports that the ACC plans to stand pat at 15 schools (14 full members plus Notre Dame).
Ironically, the last major conference without an official grant of rights deal is the SEC, though with the league buying back most of its schools’ third-tier media rights and rolling them into the league’s new deal with ESPN, it might as well have such a document. Also, while the Big XII might eye Arkansas or the Big Ten might consider Kentucky or Vanderbilt or finally Missouri, there’s really very little chance of any SEC school leaving. As Mike Slive is fond of pointing out, the SEC has no exit fee (because no one would ever want out).
So if the Big Ten truly wants to grow into a 16-school league, UConn and Cincinnati remain available.
If the Big XII wants to expand past 10 schools, BYU, Cincinnati, UConn, or other smaller Midwestern/Western schools (such as Boise State) would appear to be the best bets.
For the SEC, it looks as though the league will remain a 14-school league after all, which is exactly what multiple SEC sources have told us the conference was hoping for lo these many turbulent months. If the ACC’s grant of rights agreement comes about and it is as ironclad as most lawyers believe these types of agreements to be, any SEC move into Virginia or North Carolina won’t occur on Slive’s watch.
And for the average college sports fan who was just praying for an end to the expansion/realignment madness, this shocker of a move should serve as a belated Christmas present.