SEC swimming could soon become absolutely stacked.
A source told SwimSwam that Virginia, North Carolina, Florida State, and Clemson are negotiating to join the SEC as ESPN attempts to void their 20-year television deal with the ACC.
SOURCE: North Carolina, Florida State, Clemson, and Virginia are all negotiating to join the SEC. ESPN is trying to void their TV deal with the ACC.
— Braden Keith (@Braden_Keith) July 7, 2022
According to the source, money is a major factor along with recruiting clashes. Florida reportedly doesn’t want Miami to join, Tennessee doesn’t want UNC, and Kentucky doesn’t want Louisville. Louisville brings in the second-most revenue among public ACC schools. Miami’s revenue isn’t public, but it’s estimated that they are near the top as well — plus they bring a hometown team in a huge market.
The source said that the conversations are still in early stages, but as we’ve seen recently, things can change quickly. USC and UCLA’s surprising jump from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten went from rumor to official news in less than a day. If these early talks eventually become official, this next major shift in conference realignment would send another powerhouse swimming program to the SEC.
The Virginia women are two-time defending national champions, led by a trio who medaled at the 2022 World Championships last month. Texas, which made plans to move from the Big 12 to the SEC last summer, has seen its men’s team capture five of the last seven NCAA championships. If both programs were in the SEC this past season, the conference would have laid claim to three of the top-five finishers on the women’s side and two of the top five on the men’s side.
The SEC hasn’t boasted a national champion since 2016, when the Georgia women claimed the crown. The last NCAA champion from an SEC men’s squad came back in 2009 (Auburn). That could change once the dust is settled in conference realignment.
At this year’s ACC Championships, the North Carolina women placed fourth while the men placed seventh. The Florida State women placed eighth and the men placed sixth at the same meet. Clemson cut swimming a decade ago.
On Wednesday, Sports Illustrated reported on a potential broadcasting partnership developing between the ACC and Pac-12. That news came the same day as a separate report that the Big 12 was looking to poach six Pac-12 schools. The big question remains: Who’s going to get left behind in the process?
At this point, anything is possible.