September 27, 2023

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Stanford, Cal, SMU to join the ACC in 2024-25: How the vote fell

Stanford, Cal, SMU to join the ACC in 2024-25: How the vote fell

After nearly a month of discussions about expansion, the Atlantic Coast Conference finally came to a decision. The ACC will add Stanford, Cal and SMU as new members in the 2024-25 academic year, conference says Announced Friday.

Multiple league sources said finances were key to eventual approval the athlete That SMU had not been willing to accept any revenue from the ACC’s media rights for nine years, and Stanford and Cal were willing to join as partial members receiving a significantly reduced revenue share to begin with. The accounts worked well enough for existing ACC members to vote to add them at the Friday morning meeting.

The ACC’s footprint will now extend from the Atlantic Ocean – as its name indicates – to the Pacific Ocean. It joins the Big Ten as the only powerhouse conferences with members on both the West and East coasts. The three schools are the first additions to the ACC since Louisville joined in 2014.

The ACC invitations are an important lifeline for both Cal and Stanford, whose options have been severely limited after six Pac-12 schools left the league this summer. Both schools had been pinning hope on the ACC, despite the stalled nature of the process in recent weeks. The league needed 12 of its 15 members to support expansion, and a mid-August poll showed 11 yes and four no.

In the weeks that followed that informal poll, ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips presented various financial models aimed at getting the necessary votes. He also spent a great deal of time talking to opponents, listening to their concerns and trying to address them.

But the ensuing talks did not lead to consensus. On Thursday, the chair and vice chair of the UNC Board of Trustees issued a statement before the final vote, expressing opposition to the expansion. by a “strong majority” of the Council“Although we respect the academic excellence and athletic programs of those institutions, the travel distances for routine competitive play within a conference are too great for this arrangement to make sense for student-athletes, coaches, alumni, and fans. Conceived Newly does not adequately address the income disparity faced by ACC members.

Other ACC officials believe the statement was sent to put pressure on UNC adviser Kevin Guskiewicz, to ensure he does not flip his vote. UNC and NC State were not required to vote together, but the political climate in which the schools operate makes it difficult to make decisions where they do not agree. For this reason, NC State counselor Randy Woodson has been the subject of much fascination about the league over the past few days and weeks.

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The sources confirmed the league North Carolina flipped They voted yes on Friday morning. UNC voted against the move.

UNC advisor Kevin Guskeewicz said he “respects the outcome” in a statement Friday, but his vote against the expansion “was based on feedback I’ve gathered over the past few weeks from our athletic leadership, coaches, and faculty and student athletic advisors.” – Athletes and a variety of other stakeholders who care deeply about our university and the success of our outstanding athletic program.

Financial agreements between the ACC and the three new members paved the way to make expansion possible and to address additional travel costs associated with adding schools in California and Texas. The only way the expansion of the ACC would have been successful was to ensure that the revenue distributed to existing ACC members would not decrease. But financial support goes far beyond just covering travel costs.

As part of the ACC’s long-term deal with ESPN, the network must pay a full pro-rata share for any new members. According to the ACC’s 2021-2022 tax return, the league generated $443 million in television revenue, which equates to $29.5 million per school, a number that is expected to rise modestly each year. Since SMU is willing to accept no revenue from the ACC’s media rights for nine years, and Stanford and Cal were each expected to acquire starting stock of about 30 percent, the additions would create a pool of more than $50 million in new money to be distributed. among the current members. Starting in 2024-25. Cal and Stanford shares will escalate annually over the course of 12 years until they reach full membership.

“There is something for everyone in this, and it’s a tough thing to do. But in the end, it increases revenue for our schools,” Phillips said Friday. “It’s hard to get consensus all the time. When we left that call today, everyone was in a very good place.

It is expected that this new amount of SMU’s stake and a partial Stanford and Cal stake will be used to reward schools for performance on the field in a new revenue distribution system, helping schools that invest heavily in football (such as Florida State and Clemson) to work to close the financial gap with their peers in the SEC and the Big Ten. The ACC is expected to reward schools for participating in college football playoffs, conference tournaments, and other criteria, with incentives expected to total up to $10 million for the school that beats them all in one year.

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Most incentives are related to football, but not all.

Cal, Stanford, and SMU will be required to sign an ACC rights grant, which runs through 2036. Although they will receive no or part media rights revenue, the three members will still receive other league revenues associated with the CFP and the NCAA Tournament. .

The ACC held a number of highly publicized meetings this month to discuss expansion and scrutinize the financial details that could make it possible, but the move is still rather spectacular. The conference, which originated in North Carolina, now includes the Bay Area and Dallas. The ACC will soon have 17 full members, in addition to Notre Dame, which plays soccer independently.

Multiple league sources believe that one of the primary goals of the expansion was to ensure strength in numbers moving forward in the ACC. Even if Florida or others tried to leave the ACC (and pay whatever cost to get out of the league’s rights grants, which tie schools to the conference until 2036), there would already be schools in place to essentially fill those spots — and this was an opportunity to add a couple of institutions The most prestigious academy in the country that prides itself on its outstanding Olympic sports programs.

Stanford predicts that 22 out of 36 sports will “experience no scheduling changes or minor scheduling impacts” due to the move. The school said Friday. Much of the scheduling will still be on weekends — and the school will work with the ACC to “improve” solutions to “mitigate the impact of travel,” Stanford added.

Stanford athletic director Bernard Muir said the school would start with a 30 percent revenue share for the first seven years, then go up to 70 percent in year eight, 75 percent in year nine, and 100 percent in year 10.

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“We thought this would be a great opportunity, even though travel might not make sense for some,” Muir said. “Our student and athletic leadership have told us that we want to continue to compete at a high level.” We believe we can strike a balance between travel and academic rigor.

Description of the head of SMU t. Gerald Turner called this step “a historic milestone in the history of our organization.” in the current situation Friday.

“Since early in my tenure here at the Hilltop, we have had a vision to re-establish SMU athletics as a nationally recognized and relevant program, one that complements our outstanding academic reputation,” Turner said. “It’s really an exciting time on top of the hill.”

The ACC additions represented one final conference power ripple from the August 4 chaos, when Oregon and Washington left the Pac-12 for the Big Ten and Arizona, Arizona State and Utah left for the Big 12, all after Colorado jumped to the Big 12 12 days earlier. The remaining four Pac-12 schools are left to figure out their futures. From the start, Stanford and Cal hoped they could land themselves in the ACC—even a partial share—instead of having to retire from the Power 5 league to the Group of 5 league. Influential alumni like Stanford’s Condoleezza Rice made calls this month to try to push the lead. Acc to the finish line.

Washington State and Oregon State are the final two schools remaining in the Pac-12, and any hope of bridging and rebuilding the conference appears to have been extinguished. Those two schools have received interest from both the Mountain West and the American Athletic Conference, and they should be expected to choose their new homes relatively soon — but the AAC said Friday that it will no longer “look west” for expansion.

“We’ve gone from regional conferences to coast-to-coast national conferences,” Phillips said. And college sports are going through their next iteration of change, and it’s really drastic.

“You either get caught or you get left behind.”

(Photo: Bob Cobbins/Sportswire Icon via Getty Images)