ACC’s TV rights deal should slow realignment

Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford hopes the

decision by his members to hand over their television rights to the

league helps bring stability to all of college athletics after

three years of conference realignment chaos.

The ACC announced Monday its 15 current and future members

agreed to a grant of rights, a legally binding deal that runs

through 2027 and makes it nearly impossible for a school to switch


”I hope it is good for the entire landscape,” Swofford said

Tuesday during a break in the BCS commissioners’ meetings at a

resort hotel in Pasadena. ”There’s no question that it’s good for

the Atlantic Coast Conference, and I think that hopefully that

transfers to the greater good and the larger landscape from a

national perspective. It would appear to me that it does that.

”Particularly in terms of the membership within the power five


Three of the other power conferences – the Big Ten, Pac-12 and

Big 12 – already have similar deals. The Southeastern Conference is

the only one of the five power leagues in major college football

that hasn’t had its members sign a grant of television rights, but

the SEC is so wealthy and strong its members would seem to have no

reason to want to move.

The dizzying merry-go-round of conference realignment has been

spinning since late 2009, when the Big Ten announced that it was

looking to expand.

Since then the Big Ten has added three members. The SEC has

added two. The Pac-10 has grown into the Pac-12. The Big 12 has

shrunk from 12 to 10 members, losing four schools and adding two.

The ACC has added four schools and lost one. And conference

realignment whittled down the Big East to the point where it fell

from the ranks for the power conference and changed its name to the

American Athletic Conference.

For every move that has happened there has been double the

amount of rumored moves. Most of those lately have involved the

ACC. There has been speculation that the Big 12 would target

Florida State and Clemson if it wanted to go back to 12 members,

and that the Big Ten would dip back into the ACC for more members

after luring away Maryland.

”I think a lot of our presidents and ADs got a little tired of

the rumors that were out there which were basically unfounded,”

Swofford said. ”Seeing that and saw this as the next route to go

in terms of the solidarity of the league going forward.”

Now that those schools are apparently locked in to the ACC,

there are not a lot of schools with athletic programs that can

bring value to a conference that are easily available for the Big

Five to gobble up. And if the ACC is not going to need to replace

members any time soon, it should keep the five other FBS

conferences fairly safe.

Does this put an end to realignment?

”I think it certainly has a calming effect,” Big 12

Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said.

For the Big East and the other conferences – the Mountain West,

Sun Belt and Conference USA – that have been hit hard by revolving

door membership caused by the big conference’s desire to expand,

the calm might be more tenuous. But there is at least some reason

for optimism.

”We were all looking for that breathing space,” Big East

Commissioner Mike Aresco said. ”Now we may have an extended

period. You never know. Talking to other commissioners, everybody

is really happy with where things are.”

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