Last night was the beginning of Week 1 of college football, the time when most college sports fans are settling in to watch their favorite programs compete for the next eight or nine months. Week 1 will be overshadowed a bit this year, though, with the announcement that the ACC will be expanding next offseason.
As first reported by Pete Thamel of ESPN, the additions of California, Stanford and SMU were approved this morning by the ACC Presidents and Chancellors after initially being voted down early in August. Andrea Adelson said that sources told her this morning that NC State was the vote that flipped from the first round, which Jim Phillips said was not an official, back in August.
All three programs quickly approved the move and will join the conference as full members next offseason. SMU will be the first to join on July 1st of next year, while California and Stanford will have to wait until August 2nd.
In the deal, California and Stanford will take 30% of a whole ACC share for the next seven years, then jump to 70% in the eighth year and 75% in the ninth. Both schools will then achieve full financial shares in the year 2034, just prior to the current grant of rights expiring. Meanwhile, for SMU, they will go the next nine years without receiving TV revenue while in the conference before receiving full financial shares in 2034.
The addition of these three schools comes less than 24 hours after David Boliek Jr., the chair of the UNC-Chapel Hill board of trustees, released this statement on realignment.
"The strong majority of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Board of Trustees opposes the proposed expansion of the Atlantic Coast Conference to include Stanford University, the University of California, Berkeley, and Southern Methodist University. Although we respect the academic excellence and the athletic programs of those institutions, the travel distances for routine in-conference competitive play are too great for this arrangement to make sense for our student athletes, coaches, alumni and fans. Furthermore, the economics of this newly imagined transcontinental conference do not sufficiently address the income disparity ACC members face. Without ironclad assurances that the proposed expansion serves the interest of UNC-Chapel Hill, we believe it should be voted down."
School chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz released a statement after the vote confirming that the school was one of three that did vote against expansion on Friday.
“I respect the outcome of today's vote and welcome our new members to the ACC. My vote against expansion was informed from feedback I have gathered over the last several weeks from our athletic leadership, coaches, faculty athletic advisors, student-athletes and a variety of other stakeholders who care deeply about our University and the success of our outstanding athletic program. look forward to working with all our colleagues in the ACC to ensure excellence in academics and athletics- something our conference has long been known for.”
While this does have a chance to increase the yearly revenue for the conference, these statements seem to suggest that the Tar Heels will be taking a similar approach to Florida State and Clemson moving forward. Possibly leaving behind rivals like Duke and NC State would be another significant blow to the rivalry aspect of college sports, especially on the hardwood. However, with Jim Phillips confirming this is likely it for the conference with expansion, looking to leave is the smart thing to do.
These moves are not going to save a conference that wasn’t as proactive enough as it needed to be back when the last round of realignment began and the death of it remains inevitable. The amount of stress that this will put on the non-revenue sports that will now have to travel cross country to play conference games that will never have absolutely no rivalry feel to them at all, no matter how hard they try. It just continues to show that the montra “doing what’s best for the kids” is a bold-faced lie. It’s all about the money and with that being the case, why shouldn’t the Tar Heels go to a conference that can bring them the biggest sum. The moves today show that what was once special about college sports, and especially the ACC, regionality, is an afterthought and in this case, it’s probably all to “preserve” a conference that will collapse anyways. Way to go, Jim.