ACC Network's Joel Berry II with host Jessica Kleinschmidt on Awful Announcing's "Short and to the Point" podcast ACC Network’s Joel Berry II with host Jessica Kleinschmidt on Awful Announcing’s “Short and to the Point” podcast

Realignment was still a way away when Joel Berry II starred at North Carolina and won a National Championship with the Tar Heels. The college landscape was ever-evolving, but there were no talks of Florida State and Clemson looking for greener pastures and no signs that schools such as SMU, Stanford and Cal would gain membership.

But here we are.

While there are so many pieces, Berry was quick to tell host Jessica Kleinschmidt on an upcoming episode of the Short and to the Point podcast that, at the end of the day, it’s all about the money.

“It’s about the money, it’s about the TV deals,” Berry explained. “The things that people don’t even care about, but the conferences do, and all of those folks who are making those decisions. I think, like with everything, it has its pros and it has its cons, but it’s just like a different time now. And you just think about ACC basketball, since I’m in it; I live it, I breathe it. What’s gonna happen with North Carolina and Duke — the rivalry? People have been talking about the rivalry for so long; a lot of these rivalries that we’ve talked about that have etched themselves in being the rivalry we pay attention to — what about those rivalries that are so prevalent in our sport? Those will be gone.

“You think about the ACC, North Carolina, Duke, and some of these other teams. That dynamic is going to be gone. And then you talk about teams getting into the NCAA Tournament; how do we make sure that the mid-majors are still up there? It just makes things so complicated when you talk about there possibly being two or three big conferences with some of the biggest names in the industry.

“I just think it’s tough, but it’s something we have to embrace because it’s new times now. I don’t think we should try to not embrace it; I think we should embrace it and see where it goes. But this is really all about the money. But I think the one thing that people have to keep in mind — and I know it’s hard — but they have to keep in mind that it’s not about your own agenda; it’s about putting the student-athletes in the best situations to succeed. And if that does mean going into a different conference, by all means, go ahead and do it. But I think that still needs to be at the forefront of all the decisions that are being made, and not the money aspect of it.”

The upcoming conference reshuffling has a major downside: increased travel demands. This might not be a huge deal for football, where teams play weekly. However, for other sports, it’s a significant burden. In fact, it may have even driven away a top NCAA women’s basketball star.

While they may think they’re putting student-athletes in the best situations to succeed, you have players like Cameron Brink, who announced in March that she would forego her final season at Stanford and enter the 2024 WNBA Draft.

Brink’s decision to forgo her final season of eligibility was influenced by Stanford’s move to the ACC, which increased the travel demands.

“Her situation is a little bit different. Not everyone’s going to a Stanford,” said Berry. “So, I can understand that dynamic of it. She’s her own person. She makes her own decision. If that’s what she feels is keeping her from feeling like she can put her best foot forward, then by all means, she has her right to do that. There’s some validity to it, though… football is a little bit different because they practice throughout the week and they travel on Saturday. And some have Thursday games. It’s a little bit different.

“But with basketball, you have to think like you’re obligated to go to class, but also, if you have a West Coast trip, that makes it tough to be in class. I can understand it, and that’s why I’m still like NIL — more, more, more. Because that’s an added dynamic, you gotta go to class, but you still have to show up and be the best athlete you can be. Because, let’s be honest, why are you there? You’re there because you’re an athlete, you’re a five-star, four-star recruit, and you have to show up on the court, and that’s your first job, to be honest, if we’re keeping it real here. Because without that, you wouldn’t be at the University.

“So, I can understand where she’s coming from. That’s something that you have to think about. And that’s why I said we have to make sure we’re keeping the athletes first and not being detrimental to what and why they’re there just because the University wants to make some more money or the conference wants to make some more money, or the TV deals want more money. They’re gonna make money, but let’s make sure the athletes are being at the forefront of all of this movement.”

Short and to the Point with Jessica Kleinschmidt is available on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and wherever you get your podcasts.

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.