ACC Media Policy Prevents Defections

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ACC Media Policy Prevents Defections

Post  Carolina Kat on Tue Apr 23, 2013 1:35 pm

New ACC media policy prevents defections
By Andrew Carter
Posted: Monday, Apr. 22, 2013

The ACC’s 15 current and future member institutions on Monday announced that they had agreed to a grant of media rights, which allows the conference to retain a school’s television rights if it leaves the league.

The grant of rights, which is effective immediately, all but eliminates the possibility that a school would leave the ACC, because ACC schools would bring no television revenue to another conference. Without a grant of rights, the ACC could have been susceptible to being poached by other conferences.

“This announcement further highlights the continued solidarity and commitment by our member institutions,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. “The Council of Presidents has shown tremendous leadership in (ensuring) the ACC is extremely well positioned with unlimited potential.”

The ACC’s 15-member Council of Presidents unanimously approved the grant of rights. Voting members included leadership from Syracuse and Pittsburgh, both of which will join the ACC in July as full-time members. It also included leadership from Louisville, which will join the ACC in 2014, and Notre Dame, which in July will join the ACC in all sports except football. Maryland, which is leaving the ACC for the Big Ten, did not vote.

According to a source with direct knowledge of the ACC’s television rights deal with ESPN, ACC schools will receive an average of more than $20 million per year in television revenue for the next 14 years, starting July 1. The league’s contract with ESPN runs through the 2026-27 academic year.

If an ACC school were to leave the conference, it would forfeit its television revenue to the ACC through the 2026-27 academic year. A school that left the ACC in July, for instance, would forfeit about $280 million in television revenue over the next 14 years, based on terms of the ACC’s contract with ESPN.

Citing its financial difficulties, Maryland in November announced that it would leave the ACC for the Big Ten in 2014.

The ACC acted quickly to replace Maryland with Louisville, which will bring a financially-sound athletic department to the conference, as well as high-profile basketball and football teams. Louisville earlier this month won a national championship in men’s basketball, and its football team dominated Florida in the Sugar Bowl in January.

Even with Syracuse and Pitt set to begin competing in the ACC next season, and even with the additions of Notre Dame and Louisville, the ACC has struggled to fight the perception that some of its schools might leave for more lucrative financial opportunities in other conferences. When the league announced last September that Notre Dame would join the conference, the ACC also announced an exit fee equal to three times the operating cost of the conference – which now is roughly equivalent to $50 million.

The ACC has sued Maryland to obtain that fee for leaving the conference. Regardless of what the court decides in that case, the ACC’s grant of rights will likely put an end to speculation about the league’s demise – and it could halt major conference realignment.

Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski described the ACC’s grant of rights announcement as “one of the great days in the history of our conference.”

“It shows the highest level of commitment – not by words, but by actions,” Krzyzewski said in a statement released by Duke. “With all the uncertainty regarding conference affiliations the past several years in college athletics, this announcement, coupled with our media rights deal with (ESPN), secures the ACC’s future, and thus Duke’s, for years to come.”

The ACC joins the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac 12 as conferences with grant of rights agreements. In addition to Krzyzewski, other league officials and coaches lauded the announcement on Monday.

“These are strong and definitive moves by the ACC and its member schools to further announce our desire to stay together and position ourselves among the top conferences in the country,” Bubba Cunningham, the North Carolina athletic director, said in a statement. “… Today’s announcement should put (conference) realignment on the shelf.”

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Carolina Kat

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