It’s looked like the ACC has been on the brink of expansion a couple of times now, and once again, it appears the ACC is seriously considering new member schools.
After Hall of Fame voter and author Jason Cole reported that the ACC could reach an agreement for Cal and Stanford to join the conference as early as Wednesday, ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported that the potential additions of Cal, Stanford and SMU are once again under serious consideration.
He further reported that a small group of ACC Presidents met Wednesday morning to discuss financial models in regard to adding the three schools.
If one thing is clear, it’s that the potential for expansion is ever-changing.
Sources: The potential additions of Cal, Stanford and SMU to the ACC are again under serious consideration by the ACC. A small group of ACC presidents met Wednesday morning to discuss financial models that would come with the additions.
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) August 23, 2023
Thamel reported that SMU is willing to take no broadcast media revenue for the first seven years of its ACC membership, which based on when (of if) SMU would join, would still leave years as a full-rights ACC member. He further reported that Stanford and Cal would receive the same share reduced share, which would be different but higher than SMU’s share.
There are additional meetings expected throughout the rest of the week that could determine the fate of expansion.
Cal, Stanford and SMU, who have received national support from the likes of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former President George Bush, would need to receive 12 ‘yes’ votes in order to be accepted into the ACC. The 14 member schools, plus Notre Dame, which votes as a full member, will still need to flip one of the dissenting voters.
According to SI’s Pat Forde, it was Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina and North Carolina State that initially opposed adding Cal and Stanford — and SMU. Which, of course, means that Pitt is in favor of expansion.
The ACC’s complicated Grant-of-Rights agreement will make even expansion difficult, but the AP’s Ralph Russo reported last week that Stanford would be willing to join the ACC even if it meant greatly reduced or no media rights payouts for several years.
“Leaders from Stanford, California, Oregon State and Washington State spoke Thursday, and Stanford told its colleagues it had informed the ACC that it would be open to joining the conference at greatly reduced or even no media rights payout for several years, a person familiar with the discussions told The Associated Press,” Russo wrote.
It would be nearly impossible for any ACC member program to get out of the current Grant-of-Rights agreement, but it appears that expansion would be much more feasible — and more widely accepted than splitting apart. However, it remains to be seen how adding the likes of Cal, SMU or Stanford would move the needle.
With the SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 all growing over the last couple of years, inking new TV deals, the ACC isn’t in a position to strike a new deal. But the conference can do whatever it can to remain profitable.
The financial situation of adding the Pac-12 leftovers and SMU will clearly be major talking points moving forward, as financial discussions will dominate realignment talk as a whole, but expansion could be imminent.
The ACC’s continued expansion talks bear watching going in the days and weeks to come.