Heading into this week’s ACC spring meetings, it sounded like the conference needed to act fast or risk losing some of its biggest members in spite of a grant of rights agreement.
Now, after a couple of days of closed-door meetings, it appears they’ve hit upon a solution to keep everyone happy, at least for a while.
Per ESPN’s David Hale and Andrea Adelson, the ACC is nearing a new agreement on revenue distribution that would satisfy schools like Florida State and Clemson who feel like they’re falling behind the SEC and Big Ten counterparts in terms of yearly TV revenue.
They report that the league’s athletic directors have come together around a plan that would carve out a larger share of postseason revenue to the teams who participate in those postseason games instead of distributing it equally amongst all conference members. This new deal is said to also include revenue generated from the College Football Playoff.
Florida State athletic director Michael Alford, who has been leading the charge on ACC schools with traditional football powerhouse programs getting a bigger slice of the pie, sounds pleased with the direction of the discussion.
“The ADs and the universities are very unified,” Alford said. “So we’re thrilled about being in this league, and we want to stay in it.”
Alford told ESPN that an ACC team making the College Football Playoff could see more than $10 million in revenue annually. Florida State and Clemson are the only conference schools to qualify for the CFP, though its impending expansion will make it easier for them and others to do so more frequently.
This news is a whole lot better than what broke on Monday as rumors swirled that several ACC schools were exploring their options around the grant of rights agreement that governed their conference membership as a way to potentially leave if they didn’t get what they wanted. The ACC currently has a media deal with ESPN through 2036.
On Tuesday, Alford told reporters that talk of schools potentially leaving was “probably overblown.”
“Everyone has taken a look at the grant of rights,” another athletic director told ESPN. “You’d be crazy not to. But no one is going anywhere.”
According to Alford, the new revenue distribution model wouldn’t change TV revenue distribution, which makes up about 75% of the conference’s media revenue. He also told ESPN that none of the other ACC schools would earn less in 2023-24 than they did in 2022-23.
While the 2021-2022 revenue distribution has yet to be announced, ADs who spoke with ESPN said they expect it to be around $43 million per school. The ACC paid an average of $36.1 million in the prior fiscal year.
“We just need to be in a competitive boat,” Alford said. “We’re the third-best media agreement right now. We want to stay the third best. We need to be able to compete. As long as we’re there and competitive, that’s what the number is.”