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Coming off the August 2nd Board of Trustees meeting, Florida State officials made it clear that an exit from the ACC is on the horizon. The only question remaining was how long would it take for the Seminoles to come up with an exit strategy.
Now, the deadline to inform the ACC of an exit to play elsewhere in 2024 has come and gone, but questions surrounding the future still remain. Florida State had until today to let the conference know it would be moving on, but no such announcement materialized. So after a public meeting to voice its displeasure, the school has seemingly punted on making a quick exit.
Sure, they could decide next week that they want out down the road and start preparing a payment plan.
Even with a group of trustees letting the world know that they were eyeing an exit from the ACC, the work to make this happen is complicated. There wasn’t a magic button to push or some kind of settlement to be reached with the ACC at the moment, this was going to take time. If FSU lawyers had a way out of a complicated Grant of Rights, the move would have already taken place or been put into motion.
It’s also no secret that by the end of the media rights deal with ESPN in 2036, each member school will be playing from behind, compared to the SEC and Big Ten. From a financial standpoint, Florida State will be making around $30 million less than a team like Missouri or Maryland, without many options to close that gap.
But this doesn’t mean the Seminoles will be taking this gap in revenue lightly, still exploring options to get out of a deal that would have them on an uneven playing field for next twelve years.
Getting Out Of The ‘Grant Of Rights’ Will Be A Fight For FSU
There is obviously an easy way to get out of the ACC for teams like Florida State and Clemson, which entails them writing a massive check and forfeiting its broadcast rights for the next decade. Paying the conference $120 million is the first step, but then it’s all about securing your own media rights. At the moment, the Grant of Rights means that the ACC controls Florida State’s broadcast rights for the next thirteen years.
So without wiggling its way out of the GOR, Florida State could join another conference, but the ACC would pocket all of the revenue from future television broadcasts. As you can tell, this potential move down the road will have FSU lawyers making a lot of money from billable hours.
There’s also the problem that other conferences don’t want to get involved with any potential litigation revolving around Florida State joining them. But, this GOR doesn’t seem to be a a major concern for Peter Collins, who is the Florida State Board of Trustees chairman.
“We understand it. We have gotten a lot of counsel on that document. That will not be the document that keeps us from taking action. And I’ll leave it at that,” Collins mentioned a few weeks ago.
Even if that’s the case, which I have no reason to doubt, they still haven’t made a move, which leads me to the most obvious point. Everything that was said on August 2nd during the public board of trustee meeting was to setup a future exit, not in 2024.
“It’s not a matter of if we leave (the ACC), but how & when we leave,” FSU trustee Drew Weatherford noted during that meeting.
Florida State Looking Toward Future. ACC Not Expanding?
There will be movement within the ACC at some point in the future, whether that’s next year or three years from now. Florida State will continue to comb through the Grant of Rights, looking for some type of way out that every other member of the conference has yet to find. This is likely headed for a legal showdown that will play out in a courtroom whenever FSU decides the timing is right.
“They’ll continue looking for a way out, Florida State made it known how uncomfortable they were with the current situation,” one Power-5 AD noted to OutKick. “When you make those type of statements (BOT meeting), there’s no coming back from it. I’d imagine those conference meetings will be a little tense going forward, but that’s just business. They (FSU) see how much a school like Florida is making, and it drives them crazy. It’s not a matter of if they leave the ACC, it’s about how they’re going to leave the conference.”
As for expansion in the ACC, some members are not budging when it comes to voting ‘yes’ on adding teams like Cal and Stanford. For Florida State and Clemson, they don’t see the added value in adding two teams from the West Coast, with travel budgets and logistics being a main talking point. The conference needs 12 of 15 member schools to approve the move for expansion and they are one vote short. So, the idea of expansion might just turn out to be an idea at the end of the day.
But, we’ve learned over the past few years to never say never in college football. What was once a pretty quiet off-season turned into pure chaos around conference realignment.
Florida State will continue looking for a way out, but the clock has been reset for at least one more year.