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ACC protected from realignment by grant of rights, but for how long?

It is “inescapable that the next moves in conference realignment could potentially sink the ACC” following USC and UCLA’s move to the Big Ten, according to Mike Barber of the RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH. The ACC has a “grant-of-rights deal in place through the 2035-36 season that guarantees, essentially, that even if a school jumps ship for another league, its television revenue still goes to the ACC.” That could be enough to keep the conference afloat, but with the “money involved in the SEC’s television contract -- and the one the Big Ten is reportedly finalizing with FOX -- that might be a drop in the bucket long term, hardly a deterrent.” What happens next “probably has less to do with college football conferences and more to do with television networks.” An “emerging arms race between ESPN and FOX” has become the “driving force behind the latest largest conference realignment moves” (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 7/1).

WORKING AS A DETERRENT, FOR NOW: ESPN.com’s Andrea Adelson noted the grant of rights “at least for right now makes it financially impossible to leave and join up with either the SEC or Big Ten.” Sources said that several ACC schools “have investigated the possibility of withdrawing from the league's grant of rights, but thus far have not determined a financially feasible option.” However, major superconferences “mean major dollars in television contracts, which means in all likelihood there will be money to pay out whatever it takes as a financial penalty to leave” (ESPN.com, 6/30). THE ATHLETIC’s Raynor & Navarro noted the league’s current grant of rights is “keeping the ACC together,” but with “every year that passes, it’s possible that it makes less long-term financial sense for a powerhouse like Clemson to stay in the current deal” (THEATHLETIC.com, 6/30).

 

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