Finally, the Atlantic Coast Conference has responded to the sweltering swarm of rumors suggesting some schools were leaving the seemingly unstable league for greener pastures.
It’s not happening.
That’s if you take 15 presidents of the league’s future at their word:
“We, the undersigned presidents of the Atlantic Coast Conference, wish to express our commitment to preserve and protect the future of our outstanding league. We want to be clear that the speculation about ACC schools in negotiations or considering alternatives to the ACC are totally false. The presidents of the ACC are united in our commitment to a strong and enduring conference. The ACC has long been a leader in intercollegiate athletics, both academically and athletically, and the constitution of our existing and future member schools will maintain the ACC’s position as one of the nation’s premier conferences.”
Signed: Fr. William Leahy, Boston College; Mr. James Barker, Clemson University; Dr., Richard Brodhead, Duke University; Dr. Eric Barron, Florida State University; Dr. G.P. “Bud” Peterson, Georgia Institute of Technology; Dr. James Ramsey, University of Louisville; Dr. Donna Shalala, University of Miami; Dr. Holden Thorp, University of North Carolina; Dr. Randy Woodson, North Carolina State University; Fr. John Jenkins, University of Notre Dame; Dr. Mark Nordenberg, University of Pittsburgh; Dr. Nancy Cantor, Syracuse University; Dr. Teresa Sullivan, University of Virginia; Dr. Charles Steger, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University; Dr. Nathan Hatch, Wake Forest University.
To some, this statement may mean nothing. They may say it’s nothing more than an athletic director giving a struggling coach a vote of confidence in the middle of a season, but that would be require a degree of pessimism that enabled so many rumors to fly in the first place.
The ACC is fine, folks. The league may need to improve some of its product, but that will happen if member schools make better hires and spend more wisely. But the future is bright, and opportunities to significantly increase revenue are coming.
Too much has been made about Maryland leaving the conference as a black eye to the ACC when in fact Maryland’s problems were self-created (see arena and stadium spending, among other things). None of the conference’s other 11 athletic departments were hemorrhaging money like Maryland is, so they weren’t facing the dire situation that led Maryland’s decision to leave the ACC for the Big Ten.
It was a pure money grab for a school with a great deal of baggage. Obviously, that Big Ten schools currently make more money annually than those in the ACC is why that league was attractive in the first place. It provided a quicker bailout and safer temporary haven for the cash-strapped school.
As a result of Maryland leaving, rumors ran rampantly suggesting Florida State was leaving for the Big 12 – some still even linked FSU to the Southeastern Conference, which is silly because that league will only add schools to expand its footprint, and it already owns Florida. Some “reports” claimed Clemson was bolting, and last week the twitterverse exploded with “sources” saying Virginia and Georgia Tech would announce this past Monday they were headed to the Big Ten.
Of course, that didn’t happen, and nobody other than Maryland has left the league. This isn’t to suggest there hasn’t been interest in at least exploring options, but Thursday’s statement by the ACC suggests quite clearly the member schools are on the same page and have faith in the direction of the conference.
t doesn’t mean each school is 100 percent happy with everything, and those that aren’t likely are interested in whether or not Maryland eventually has to pay the full exit fee of more than $52 million. The ACC is confident it will get every dime, as Maryland agreed to the parameter in September.
But it was a united front that was necessary to quell the silliness and provide a show of strength.