Will The ACC Finally Make A Decision On Expansion With Stanford, Cal? Clock Is Ticking, As Season Approaches

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The ongoing discussion about expansion within the ACC has been the topic of discussion as the college football season is just days away from starting. Will Stanford, Cal and SMU receive an invite? This question has been at the forefront with a league hoping to solve a revenue problem.

ACC presidents had a meeting scheduled for Tuesday morning, but that was called off before things got underway. A decision on whether or not to add teams to the conference, while trying to please schools like Florida and Clemson, has been a point of contention. But, a number of ACC presidents are still breaking down the numbers, with more meetings coming on Thursday and Friday.

Conference presidents continue to meet in-regards to adding Cal, Stanford and SMU. The financial details of a new addition center around the revenue sharing each current member would receive, considering the three schools would be joining at a discounted rate. How the conference divides up that revenue has been an ongoing discussion.

If Cal and Stanford were to join in the next week, they could make around $9 million each for the first part of the contract, getting the full share by 2036. Since SMU has proposed a forfeiture of media revenue for the first seven years, this would free up around $53-56 million in additional revenue for the ACC, this includes the Cal and Stanford share. That money would then be distributed to teams through athletic bonuses or other avenues, according to multiple sources.

This scenario is what a number of conference presidents are hoping sways at least one of the ‘no’ votes to the other side. The ACC needs 12 members to vote ‘yes’ on the matter, which would lead to the schools being invited.

For the time being, Stanford and Cal are desperate to find a landing spot, which would keep them at a Power-5 level. As mentioned before, both schools would enter the conference at a discounted rate, which continues to be intriguing for ACC members, knowing they would be able to split the off-set revenue.

As for the addition of a team like Stanford, their willingness to join the conference and pass on taking any revenue in the first few years is a stark reminder of the situation. The Stanford athletic department is in good shape, which could make a move to the independent side in football more feasible, but they still need television revenue.

ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips Has His Hands Full At Meetings This Week
Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner Jim Phillips speak to the press during the ACC Football Kickoff on Jul 20, 2022, at The Westin Charlotte in Charlotte, NC. (Photo by David Jensen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Now, the decision comes down to ACC presidents, who could not get the twelve votes needed last week to make the move. Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina and North Carolina State were against the move of bringing in both Pac-12 schools, while Notre Dame continued to lobby for the Cardinals.

It reached a tipping point when former president George Bush lobbied for SMU to be a part of the ACC’s plan for expansion. Also, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was lobbying on her own for Stanford, which makes sense because of her involvement with the school. But make no mistake, ACC presidents are trying to decide on whether or not a move to the West Coast is actually worth it.

The Final Four Pac-12 Schools Have A Tough Decision

While this is going on in the ACC, Washington State and Oregon State are waiting on their two conference colleagues to make a decision. Both schools are in a difficult spot, trying to find the right path towards staying relevant in college football.

Would it make sense for the remaining schools to partner with the Mountain West Conference? Sure, but they would take a massive hit when it comes to television revenue. This is one of the reasons why Stanford has been adamant about foregoing any revenue at the moment, so they are secure down the road.

One of the overwhelming problems for the ACC is the current media rights deal. ESPN is in a position where they don’t need to pay the conference any additional revenue, with the current deal in place until 2036. If the ACC were to add additional teams, the payoff would almost certainly go towards the travel budget and other expenses, while some schools continue to look for a way out.

But, ESPN would pay each additional school around $24 million per season. As previously discussed, the fact that each school is willing to join at a substantial discount has kept ACC presidents talking.

The ACC needed someone to break away from their ‘No’ vote, which could lead to the conference getting the twelve votes needed.

Could this change within a few hours? Sure, but there’s a reason why the ACC decided not to meet on Tuesday morning. If you know the votes aren’t there, don’t waste anyone’s time. The backdoor lobbying is still happening and conference presidents could call for a meeting at any moment.

But right now, Cal and Stanford are still vying for votes and to sway a school to vote in their favor. Unfortunately, it’s just a few days before the season begins and schools in the ACC are ready to either expand or punt on this opportunity for now.

However the ACC decides to go, it’s time to make some decisions, which could come within the next week.

Written by Trey Wallace

Trey Wallace is the host of The Trey Wallace Podcast that focuses on a mixture of sports, culture, entertainment along with his perspective on everything from College Football to the College World Series.

Wallace has been covering college sports for 15 years, starting off while attending the University of South Alabama. He’s broken some of the biggest college stories including the Florida football “Credit Card Scandal” along with the firing of Jim McElwin and Kevin Sumlin. Wallace also broke one of the biggest stories in college football in 2020 around the NCAA investigation into recruiting violations against Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt.

Wallace also appears on radio across seven different states breaking down that latest news in college sports.

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