ACC Looking Into Adding Cal, Stanford Following Pac-12’s Collapse

by Riley Overend 82

August 07th, 2023 ACC, College, News, Pac-12

On Monday, several reports surfaced identifying the ACC as a possible landing spot for Stanford and Cal following last week’s collapse of the Pac-12, though the conversations are in early stages. ACC athletic directors and university presidents are expected to meet within the next day to discuss the potential addition of the Bay Area pair.

However, not all ACC members appear to be on board with the expansion with worries that Stanford and Cal don’t bring enough value to offset increased travel costs. Any offer will likely come with reduced shares of the league’s revenue, but it would still be more lucrative than merging with the Mountain West. Another option for Stanford and Cal is going independent in football until the next round of conference realignment.

If Stanford and Cal aren’t extended offers by the ACC, they could be at serious risk of cutting their athletic department budgets with reduced revenue distribution on the horizon.

The ACC currently divides revenue equally among members, but Florida State and Clemson have called for bigger slices of the pie. FSU president Richard McCullough even went so far as to say the school would “very seriously” consider leaving the ACC barring a significant change to the conference’s revenue distribution model. However, it will prove difficult to get out of the ACC’s Grant of Rights, which runs through 2036.

It’s possible the ACC feels increased pressure to expand after conference realignment chaos took place last week. Just a few days ago, Oregon and Washington bolted for the Big Ten. Then Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah followed Colorado to the Big 12. With USC and UCLA already committing to the Big Ten, that left the Pac-12 with just four remaining schools for the 2024-25 season: Stanford, Cal, Oregon State, and Washington State.

The addition of Cal and Stanford would give the ACC 16 full members (Notre Dame is independent in football), making them one of four conferences with at least 16 members starting next season. Both the SEC and Big 12 will have 16 members while the Big Ten is ballooning to 18 members.

Not that it’s being factored into this decision, but if the ACC did absorb Cal and Stanford, the conference would be absolutely stacked from a swimming perspective. Three-time defending NCAA women’s champion Virginia is building a dynasty in Charlottesville while the Cal men are coming off back-to-back national titles and 13 straight top-2 finishes at NCAAs.

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3 months ago

Seems like a lot of what may happen depends upon how much extra money ESPN is willing to kick in for an expanded conference – with ESPN’s move into sports gambling, that may increase if ESPN and their gaming partner can get a gambling geolocation exclusive at ACC venues and campuses.

Reply to  Wahooswimfan
3 months ago

ESPN has to kick in a pro-rata share for each new school. It’s in the contract.

Comment Section President
3 months ago

The SEC is going to grab two ACC schools (UNC, Clemson, Virginia or Florida State), then what?

3 months ago

No joke this time. Apparently, the ACC is actually considering SMU in addition to the Bay Area schools.

The combination of the DFW media market and the fact SMU is supposedly willing to completely forgo any conference distributions of “several seasons”.

Also, of note, the article does claim that the ACC’s contract with ESPN does include a pro rata clause which could make adding the Bay Area schools a bit easier, though they would still need to take reduced rates to offset the increased travel and logistical costs of their additions.

3 months ago

What a colossal mess D-1 college athletics has become in the last few weeks. A giant disappointment with all the traditional rivalries being destroyed. I’m not happy about this one bit!

Reply to  Billy
3 months ago

Trickle down economics… swimmers at Power 5 schools aren’t complaining about round the clock Nutrition Stations, Alston Money, Summer School Paid in full, Cost of Attendance Money, Moocho, etc. These schools spend the money, so they need to make the money any way they can.

3 months ago

From an NCST fan I say “YES!”

3 months ago

Am I wrong to say Texas started this madness with their Longhorn Network?

Joel Lin
Reply to  Tomek
3 months ago

Texas made a very good business decision at a timely moment & it went well for Texas for a number of years.

Reply to  Tomek
3 months ago

no. this Joel Klatt podcast breaks it down very well.

If the link is not allowed… search for “Klatt on next wave of conference expansion: Big changes coming for Pac-12, Big Ten, and Big 12?”

Reply to  Tomek
3 months ago

Texas and Oklahoma were the first ones to move conferences in this period of relignment, yes.

Their move to SEC made the Big 10 feel they needed to make a move and get USC/UCLA. Which weakened thought in the pac 12 causing all these schools to want out

Reply to  Tomek
3 months ago

Byutv was launched in 2000 and LHN in 2011. Byutv has general programming which includes byu sports, while LHN was focused on UT sports.

Byutv was fairly successful and was a blueprint for other schools to do the same. Texas took it to the next level with the sports focused programming. Both schools partnered w espn to broadcast football starting in 2011.

3 months ago

Is the next step in this big money grab for lawyers from the cash cow football programs and tv networks working to figure out a way to remove programs that have been in major conferences for generations but don’t pull their weight when it comes to generating revenue? I can’t imagine teams like Alabama and Ohio State like giving a share of the pie to Rutgers, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest etc.

Reply to  Willswim
3 months ago

Nobody talks about it, but aside from Texas in the Big 12, no conference has been willing to pull the trigger on tiered revenues (and maybe the Big 12 is the reason for why).

The problem the conferences face is that every school you just named raises the academic profile of those conferences. I think academics matter less-and-less every year (especially as some of these football-heavy state schools get better-and-better academically), but there are still reasons to value the academics – not the least of which is if you’re going to congress to solve your NIL/pay-the-players problem, where you’re essentially asking congress to exempt you from fair labor practices, it’s going to be hard to do that if you just… Read more »

3 months ago

Also reports of the Big 12 going after Oregon State and Washington State in a reduced share capacity. Why no mention of Cal and Stanford? The bay area schools and market are much more valuable than Corvallis and Pullman. This makes no sense unless Cal and Stanford are in advanced conversations with the Big 10 and / or ACC.

On a side note: Why hasn’t the Big 12 invited SMU to join? Not just now but in previous years. Makes too much sense to me.

Reply to  Greg
3 months ago

TCU already clearly dominates the market if we are talking smaller schools. Mostly it’s UT, OU and Tex A+M that garner the most TV in Dallas-Fort Worth so they don’t need SMU for TV.
SMU football stadium fits about 150 people and they can’t fill it unless TCU is there.
SMU basketball was good for one hot minute but they are back to mediocre again. Doesn’t help again for power 5 interest that TCU has made the Dance 2 years in a row now and again, no need for SMU for TV there.
Pretty much all of SMU’s sports venues are small and terrible (exception actually swimming which now has the nicest facilities on campus ).
… Read more »

Old Bruin
Reply to  Greg
3 months ago

You sure about that media claim? I’d like to see the numbers not on overall media but actual viewers of the games in each region. Sorry Bears and Trees, but not a lot of people care about Cal or Stanford football (other that the Cal-Stanford game each year)….there’s just a lot more going on in the Bay Area. Have you been to Pullman or Corvallis?

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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