ACC Finally Makes Decision On Expansion With Cal, Stanford, SMU: They’re In

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The ACC has finally made a decision on the potential additions of Stanford, Cal and SMU to the conference. In a Friday morning meeting, ACC member school presidents voted ‘yes’ to extending a formal invitation to the trio.

This is a monumental day for a lot of reasons, with the ACC deciding this was the right time to add three more teams. It also means the Pac-12 is dead and buried for good, with Oregon State and Washington State being left out in the cold.

As for SMU, the school has made concessions to join the conference, which includes forfeiting media revenue for the first seven years of the contract. ACC presidents were deciding on how the additional money from this move would be split, including monetary performance incentives for schools already in the conference.

The league presidents needed 12 of 15 yes votes, which they got Friday morning, with one school flipping.

For the ACC, after a few weeks of lobbying and going over what it would look like from a financial standpoint, enough schools felt this was the right move. In terms of payouts, Stanford took the approach of forgoing any type of revenue from the media rights deal, getting an invitation in return.

Now, the real work begins on figuring out how these two teams will be integrated into the ACC. Will this please Florida State enough that it will stop making threats of leaving? No, but the other schools in the conference did not care, they had to look out for themselves.

ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips Has His Hands Full At Meetings This Week
Commissioner Jim Phillips speak to the press during the ACC Football Kickoff. (Photo by David Jensen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

One of the bigger questions now looming is the how to disperse the additional revenue for the conference if ESPN is ponying up more money. The current deal runs until 2036, so the ACC had to position itself in the best possible manner when it comes to an influx of cash.

Also, having two teams from the West Coast enter the ACC will certainly bring new viewers to the conference and its network. Stanford has one of the best athletic departments in college sports, so it’s not as if they aren’t bringing anything with them.

For California, this is an opportunity to grow, especially when its future was in limbo.

What Does This Financially Mean For ACC Moving Forward?

Now that the ACC has officially voted to extend an invitation, all Stanford and Cal need to do is sign the paperwork. We’ve already seen the mass exodus that led to the Pac-12 only having four remaining members for 2024. Now, that number is down to two. So, the ACC should have enough leverage to get ESPN to shell-out a few more millions per year.

The ACC will end up bringing in an additional $72 million with the expansion, with the money not going to the new additions spread out around other teams. In terms of revenue for a new schools, they could each start at around $8 million, besides SMU, who has decided to forgo any media revenue for at least the first seven years in the ACC.

Having an additional $30 million in the reserve to dole out is the priority with this expansion. Although expenses like travel will take up a nice chunk of the revenue, there’s at least $30-35 million for long-standing members to divide. How they decide to split the money, or the incentive based option, is up to conference presidents.

This also extends the ACC’s footprint to the West Coast, getting games on local television providers that had no need to carry the ACC Network. This is not just a football move, with a majority of the sports on each campus receiving a better platform. There was no sense in paying for the demoralized Pac-12 network in the past, but now the conference can at least count on potentially thousands of new viewers.

In terms of getting into the conference for the 2024 season, this will take some work from both athletic departments, especially with travel. Having one football game per week is nowhere close to a full season of basketball or even baseball. So, each school will have to prepare a budget and start looking into travel arrangements, which will take some time.

As for the rest of the conference, this will end up being a move that helps keep teams like Florida State around, or turns out to be a backup plan for when they leave down the road.

Either way, we’re still not done with expansion, as Washington State and Oregon State look for a home.

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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  1. WSU and OSU will attempt to cobble together teams from the AAC for 2024, 4 to 6 and then add 4-6 more for 2025 from the MWC when the exit fee drops to $17 million. Either that or they will bring across 9 or more MWC schools under the Pac-12 banner. Has to be 9 or more in order to have enough votes to dissolve the conference and negate the $34 million exit fee. They have to keep the “Pac-12” as a conference to get the $60 million in tourney money the conference has earned (so far). That can keep their athletic departments afloat for a while until they adjust to a lower distribution. The only way they leave is either 1) the Big-12 was full of it and picks them up, 2) the NCAA agrees to pay them the tourney payments as a member of another conference or 3) the NCAA says they will not pay the $$$ in any scenario. In that case they come into the MWC, who then tries to pilfer 2 schools from what is left of the AAC or adds Gonzaga and St. Mary’s for all sports they sponsor. The WCC is really just those two now with the loss of BYU.

  2. As an ACC grad, I recognize this as simply the next methodical step in the slow march of college football becoming NFL Lite. It is almost inevitable at this point that we will end up with the four remaining major conferences joining (colluding) together to circumvent NCAA control and become a four division league that spans coast-to-coast and ultimately goes back to being based on geography (think NFC South, AFC West, etc) with a defined playoff structure. The money – and, shockingly, the logic – will make it so.

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