Four ACC schools are opposed to adding Cal and Stanford, a source confirmed to ESPN, but expansion discussions are not completely over as of Friday evening.
Though there is no call currently scheduled for the presidents to talk about expansion again, the discussions continue in the hopes that perhaps they can get to 12 “yes” votes, the required number to add teams. Florida State, North Carolina, Clemson and NC State are opposed, a source said, confirming news first reported by Sports Illustrated.
One source described the expansion discussion as being “on life support,” two days after ESPN reported the talks among the presidents hit “significant roadblocks” following a call among presidents on Wednesday night.
Multiple sources indicated there is no deadline to make any decision for the ACC, and a presidents call could be scheduled at any time. A vote will be taken only if there are enough yes votes. One source believed a decision should have been made during the Wednesday call: “I would imagine that there’s not much more for them to discuss. I would think that the next item on the agenda is to make a decision.”
It should be noted the four schools that are opposed are among a group of seven schools that have had separate discussions among themselves looking at the ACC grant of rights and a path forward. The ACC grant of rights ties the league together through the end of its television contract with ESPN in 2036 and gives the conference control over member school’s media revenue and broadcast rights.
For Cal and Stanford, the clock is ticking as they evaluate their future options.
There is appeal among a majority of the presidents to add Cal and Stanford from an academic and Olympic sports perspective. There is not nearly as much appeal among athletics directors, however, for a host of reasons, including football, finances and West Coast travel.
The ACC is facing a $30 million annual revenue gap with the SEC and Big Ten, and the priority for athletics directors in the league is to try to significantly enhance revenue in the league. The ACC has looked at expansion options over the past two years but has not added any schools because they do not enhance the conference’s financial situation.
That is also the case with Cal and Stanford. Neither school would add to the financial bottom line, sources indicated. But there is another component at play here that might be more appealing than finances. With Florida State president Richard McCullough telling his board of trustees last week the university would have to “very seriously” consider leaving the ACC unless there is a radical change to the conference’s revenue distribution model, adding schools could help solidify the conference into the future.
Any team that wants to leave the ACC for next season must notify the league by Aug. 15. Perhaps that is why talks are not completely over, as there continues to be a waiting game to see what Florida State does. Though multiple sources indicated it appears unlikely the Seminoles will do anything by Aug. 15, there is a bit of a guessing game involved in what could happen.
With the prospect of adding no schools on the table, and understanding Florida State is serious about leaving, perhaps the Seminoles open more doors to getting what they want — a change in the way television revenue is distributed. Or perhaps their vocalness will not change anything. More clarity is expected once the deadline passes.