Cal celebrates with the Axe after beating Stanford in November 2022. Nov 19, 2022; Berkeley, California, USA; California Golden Bears wide receiver Monroe Young (14) and safety Daniel Scott (32) hold The Axe after defeating the Stanford Cardinal at FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlantic Coast Conference has voted to add two schools on the Pacific Coast and another one in Texas. After a lot of discussion of the idea, and reports that they didn’t quite have the necessary 12 of 15 votes, the conference managed to find those votes in a meeting Friday:

This was far from a foregone conclusion even heading into Friday morning’s meeting. More than three weeks ago, reports had four ACC schools (Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina and NC State) opposed to this idea. The most likely to flip seemed NC State, but even that was challenging, especially with UNC’s board of trustees issuing a statement of opposition to this deal Thursday night; there are potential perils for the Wolfpack in being decoupled from the Tar Heels if UNC does leave at some future point. But ESPN’s Andrea Adelson confirmed Friday that NC State was the only one of those four schools that did flip.

With this move, there will be some extra TV revenue coming in for the now-18-team ACC (17 teams in football, where Notre Dame remains independent). Reports have SMU agreeing to join with no media revenue distribution for the first nine years (as per the above ESPN piece), while Cal and Stanford are expected to only take 30 percent shares, creating a bonus revenue pool between $50 and $60 million after their reduced shares and travel offsets. Some of that will be equally distributed amongst the existing schools, while some will be put into the bonus pool for on-field success the conference agreed to earlier this year.

However, there are still challenges ahead for the ACC, and those go beyond working in these new members (two of which are on the opposite coast). It’s notable that three of the league’s top football schools still dissented, even with the potential of gaining extra revenue here.

And Florida State officials in particular have been very vocal about exploring an ACC departure (perhaps with private equity help) if the league didn’t add enough new revenue. And this particular deal didn’t seem satisfactory to them, as evidenced by that no vote. So it will be interesting to see if the Seminoles, Tigers and Tar Heels wind up being okay with these additions despite voting against them, or if some or all of them try their own departure for greener pastures. (An interesting side part of this is that ESPN reportedly can renegotiate their ACC TV contract if the league drops below 15 members, so this idea is potentially some insurance for the conference against some of those possible departures, even if it may contribute to them happening.)

Beyond that, the Pac-12 will be down to just two teams following the exits of Stanford and Cal. Those would be Oregon State and Washington State. Many ideas have been floated for what could be ahead there, from a merger of some sort with the Mountain West to raiding Group of Five conferences in an attempt to rebuild the previous Pac-12. But those options both get much more difficult with only the Beavers and Cougars left, and those schools may have to give up on the Pac-12 and find other solutions.


About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.