Is the ACC beyond saving? One report filed by The Athletic asks that question as the fallout from the Big Ten’s expansion continues.
On Thursday, USC and UCLA announced that the two schools would leave the Pac-12 and join the Big Ten in 2024. The Big Ten approved the move.
While that wouldn’t appear to have an direct repercussion on the ACC, it is forcing each of the remaining Power 5 conferences — except for the SEC — to re-evaluate things.
The Pac-12 announced on Friday that it would pursue expansion. The Big 12 hasn’t made any announcements about its future, but there were conflicting reports on Thursday and Friday — one that the Big 12 would pursue four Pac-12 schools and one that reported the Big 12 wouldn’t pursue any Pac-12 members at this time.
But what about the ACC? On the surface, the conference would seem safe with 14 members, plus its affiliate arrangement with Notre Dame.
But that may not be entirely accurate.
The Athletic’s long piece on the Big Ten’s road to taking in USC and UCLA included information from several sources from inside the ACC, which is in an ‘Alliance’ with the Big Ten and Pac-12, one that was designed to prevent this sort of thing.
The piece, written by Nicole Auerbach and Matt Fortuna, didn’t paint a rosy picture of what could be ahead for the ACC. Here’s the relevant paragraph:
‘But the belief among several ACC schools is that that conference is beyond saving — even if Notre Dame were to join for football — and that the only thing holding it together right now is a Grant of Rights through 2035-36, which essentially means that any exiting member would forfeit its media rights revenue until that time. Nevertheless, several ACC schools have been studying the Grant of Rights in the hopes of a legal workaround to minimize the cost of leaving should a lifeboat arrive from another conference.’
Another Athletic reporter, Andy Staples, found the ACC’s Grant of Rights contract and posted it to Twitter, and even spoke to a lawyer about strategies schools could use to get out of it.
The general analysis is that it will be really difficult for any ACC team to get out of the grant of rights.
But that may not matter if the membership believes the league is beyond saving.
Matthew Postins can be found on Twitter @PostinsPostcard