After more than three weeks of discussions about expansion, the Atlantic Coast Conference presidents are scheduled to meet Monday night and potentially take a formal vote on adding Stanford, Cal and SMU, a league source said. News of the meeting was first reported by Yahoo Sports.
The finances would be key to final approval: Multiple conference sources said SMU is willing to accept no ACC media rights revenue for at least seven years, and Stanford and Cal are willing to join as partial members receiving around 30 percent of a revenue share initially, freeing up a pool of more than $70 million of new money to be distributed among members starting in 2024-25.
The ACC invitations would be important lifelines for Cal and Stanford, whose options were extremely limited after six Pac-12 schools left the league this summer. They had been holding out hope for the ACC, despite running into roadblocks in recent weeks. The league needed 12 of 15 members to support expansion, but a straw poll taken mid-August showed 11 yeses and four dissenters. The feeling across the league shifted in recent days, with momentum building for expanding westward with the three schools.
As part of the ACC’s long-term deal with ESPN, the network must pay a pro-rata share for any new members. Per the ACC’s 2021-22 tax return, the league made $443 million in TV revenue, the equivalent of $29.5 million per school, a number expected to rise modestly each year. With the three new potential members taking far less than their full shares to start, that frees up money the ACC can pool together and treat as a new revenue source.
That pool of money is expected to be used to reward schools for on-field performance in a new revenue-distribution system, helping the schools that invest heavily in football (such as Florida State and Clemson) to work toward closing the financial gap with their peers in the SEC and the Big Ten. The ACC is expected to reward schools for College Football Playoff participation, conference championships and other benchmarks.
Cal, Stanford and SMU would be required to sign the ACC’s grant of rights, which runs through 2036. Though they would receive either no or partial media rights revenue, the three members would still receive other league revenue tied to the CFP and the NCAA tournament.
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