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Utah Strongly Denies Report Linking Program to the ACC



ACC Football media days.

Utah is now involved in a “he said, she said” regarding the future of the athletic department.

Dick Weiss of the NY Daily News reported over the weekend that were was discussion surrounding Utah possibly flipping to the ACC from the Big 12, which the Utes are officially joining in July. He further reported that the discussion centers around the ACC being a better fit for Utah due to its ESPN Network deal and potential for increased TV value.

But at the same time, he said that there was skepticism regarding the stability and attractiveness of the ACC compared to the Big 12.

Brett McMurphy of Action Network shared a statement from Utah Athletics regarding the report, and continued speculation around the college football landscape:

“We are proud to be entering into membership in the Big 12 Conference in the coming months & and excited to join our new colleagues and member institutions. A report over the weekend that suggested otherwise is completely fabricated & irresponsible.”

Of course, words are one thing. Actions are another. This isn’t to say that Utah is going to flip from the Big 12 to the ACC, the Big 12 Grant of Rights is certainly a factor (although it would be interesting to see the dynamic of a school that has not yet joined its intended conference), but words have certainly been walked back on in the era of realignment.

The ACC is coming off its highest revenue year ever, up nearly $100 million in 2023, and with the new arrivals either taking no TV revenue (SMU) or a very reduced share (Cal and Stanford), it does create additional revenue to be distributed.

Cal, Stanford and SMU will begin ACC play in the 2024 season, in all sports, and all three have agreed to unequal revenue sharing. Cal and Stanford will receive 30% in the first seven years, 70% in the eighth year, 75% in the ninth year and 100% in the last three years. SMU will receive no revenue shares over the first nine years.

That revenue will be circulated back into the ACC, with all 14 previous full-time members and Notre Dame receiving a reported $50-60 million — and additional revenue able to be earned through winning.

According to a report by Steve Berkowitz of USA Today, the ACC brought in $707 million in revenue last year, which was third most among Power Five conferences (behind the SEC and Big Ten) and an increase of nearly $100 million.

“About $38 million of its increase came from TV revenue,” Berkowitz wrote. “The conference said in a statement that this was driven in part by Comcast picking up the ACC Network in December 2021, which made 2023 the first full fiscal year in which the network had reached full distribution.

“The conference increased its bowl revenue by about $40 million compared to 2022, primarily because the Orange Bowl was not a College Football Playoff semifinal following the 2022 season, so the ACC could get revenue from that game. That didn’t happen when the Orange Bowl was a semifinal after the 2021 season.”

Berkowitz further reported that the individual payout was somewhere between $43.3 million and $46.9 million, averaging $44.8 million. Notre Dame received $22.1 million as an independent.

And when it comes to the new College Football Playoff revenue distribution, it’s slightly weighted in the ACC’s favor. While the SEC and Big Ten teams will earn as much as $23 million and $21 million annually, the ACC will earn slightly more than the Big 12 ($13.7 million to $12.3 million). But both continue to fall behind.

The ACC has a TV deal that runs through 2036, which is favorable for keeping its member schools locked in with an expensive Grant of Rights agreement but unfavorable considering the deals the SEC, Big Ten and even the Big 12 have signed in recent seasons.

If Utah were to join the ACC, the financials would need to work. And the Utes would likely have more bargaining power than Cal, SMU or Stanford in that regard.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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21 days ago

Notwithstanding the insanity of this. They would be a good addition.

20 days ago

It’s all about the $$$. Always has been, but more evident now.

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