Inside the big-money battle that might choose the ACC’s future

7:00 AM ET Andrea Adelson Close Andrea Adelson ESPN Senior Citizen Writer ACC press reporter. Joined in 2010. Graduate of the University of Florida.David Hale Close

  • David Hale

    ESPN Personnel Author ACC reporter.Joined ESPN in 2012. Graduate of the University of Delaware.Florida State athletic director Michael Alford understood there ‘d be debate when he attended tothe school’s board of trustees last week.

  • He ‘d currently talked with several other athletic directors around the ACC who shared his issues

    . There was an elephant in the space, Alford thought, and it was time someone addressed it directly, openly, bluntly. “At the end of the day, for Florida State to contend nationally,”Alford informed the board,” something needs to alter moving on.”The numbers, he described, are stark.In the next few years, new television offers for the SEC and Big 10 will start that will supply member organizations in those leagues with$ 30 to$40 million more annually than Florida State will receive from the ACC. The ACC distributed a record$36.1 million per full-time member for the 2020-21 season, a number that must grow slightly now that the league has full distribution of the ACC Network. The SEC’s upcoming TV contract, nevertheless, is expected to lead to more than $70 million per team in payouts, while the Big 10’s new deal is anticipated to disperse a minimum of $80 million per team annually.Florida State presently splits league profits uniformly with 13 other full-time members of the ACC(and shares a part with partial member Notre Dame). However Alford informed the board the Seminoles are accountable for a far higher portion of that revenue– as much as 15%, according to a consulting firm he worked with on simply his 2nd day on the task– while making simply 7%of it in league payouts.Put the two concerns together– the size of the total income pie, and how the league picks to slice it up– and Alford thinks it will soon be almost impossible for the Seminoles to complete for a championship game in football.”I understand how tough the commissioner and the office are working to provide options to the members of the conference to the revenue space that we are projecting in the upcoming years to the media agreements,” Alford told ESPN.”But at the end of the day, in order to complete to the requirement we wish to compete in, there requires to be a change, and the status quo is unsatisfactory.”While Alford’s issues have been gone over at length behind closed doors over the previous 2 years, his choice to go public with his frustrations acted as a clear message to a few of his less-motivated coworkers that the timeline for change must be accelerated.At least for now, Florida State and every ACC school are tied together through the league’s grant of rights, which provides the league control over each member’s media profits and runs through

    2036. That has actually largely insulated the league from the adjustment turmoil that has roiled the remainder of the college football world since Texas and Oklahoma first announced their objective to bolt the Huge 12 for the SEC in 2021, however Alford’s comments, including speculation on what a potential exit from the league might cost, have brought the ACC’s future to the forefront.Editor’s Picks 1 Related”None of the concerns that were shared throughout that conference were things that we haven’t currently been looking at and attending to as a conference,”commissioner Jim Phillips informed ESPN.

    “We’ve been open

    about our league’s conversation on revenue generation and business innovation, and have actually been exploring all options to improve overall earnings.”And yet, as Alford addressed his board of trustees, his primary frustration was that so little had changed. He is barely alone, however according to almost a dozen ACC administrators who talked to ESPN, Florida State has been the most aggressive in pursuing a more lucrative monetary future, consisting of exploring the possibility of leaving the league altogether.Asked by the board of trustees about a possible cost for departing the ACC, Florida State’s legal counsel recommended as little as $120 million, a figure Alford stated”hypothetically” could be balanced out after just a few years of higher revenues in another league.Alford’s mathematics,

    nevertheless, does not account for the grant of rights, which would make leaving the ACC– for FSU or anyone else– a difficult task.The league’s contract with its member schools requires an exit charge equal to 3 times yearly revenue, or about $120 million. However the grant of rights could possibly avoid a group from earning TV earnings– or perhaps even transmitting its games– up until the contract ends. Phillips has actually frequently pointed at the plights of Texas, Oklahoma, USC and UCLA as examples of how tough it would be for a team to leave its grant of rights. The Longhorns and Sooners were forced to wait 3 seasons after revealing their intent to sign up with the SEC, and still will pay$100 million to purchase out the final year of their deal with the Big 12. ACC schools have 13 years remaining on their deal.Over the previous two years, a variety of schools have sent teams of lawyers to analyze the official grant of rights document, either searching for a possible pathway out or guarantees that the biggest brand names can’t leave without a serious fight.As one administrator told ESPN, those reviews have developed a number of possibly compelling arguments for breaking the arrangement however

    have revealed no obvious loophole that would provide a pathway out without engaging in drawn-out litigation.”Is it worth the paper it’s composed on?”one advertisement said.” If one school begins to leave, then another, how strong is it? It would include a major legal battle.”And as one athletic director explained, it would also require another conference to extend an invite to sign up with prior to knowing whether it would have rights to broadcast that team’s games. It’s a legal Catch-22. However for all the bluster– and at least one

    ACC athletic director thought about Alford’s remarks little more than playing to his fan base– the general public declarations were planned more as a warning than a threat.A month previously, ACC presidents and athletic directors fulfilled in Charlotte, where among the main subjects on the program was income circulation. For several years, bigger schools such as Clemson and Florida State have actually argued that dividing all profits equally

    handcuffs schools wishing to contend at the highest levels in football, while a contingent of schools happily cashes the exact same checks without putting a major focus the sport that drives the frustrating majority of revenue..@FSUFootball is tops in the ACC in average television viewership throughout all tiers from 2014-2021 #OneTribe!.?.!— FSU Seminoles( @Seminoles)February 7, 2023 A number of other administrators who talked to ESPN quibbled with Alford’s exact numbers, however mostly concurred with his bigger point: The teams serious about football are worthy of more due to the fact that they’re bringing in more.”I think the schools who are assisting create the profits ought to have a chance to participate in the profits more than they are right now, rather than simply slicing the pie the way it is in equal shares.

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