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FSU prez makes case for remaining in the ACC

Eric Barron

In a statement released Saturday night, and after the chairman of Florida State’s Board of Trustees undermined both the ACC and his own athletic department in suggesting the Big 12 is a viable conference option, university president Eric Barron said that the school “is not seeking an alternative to the ACC nor are we considering alternatives.”

On Monday, Barron released another, much lengthier statement addressing the conference affiliation issue for FSU, and did not back down from his  weekend stance at all.  In addition to once again noting the misinformation that was spread by, among others, BOT chairman Andy Haggard, as it pertained to Tier 3 rights, Barron in his memo seemed to focus in on four key areas of concern, including one that takes a direct slap at the academics in the Big 12.

The University of Texas Monolith
Part of the problem, perhaps the biggest problem, with past instability in the Big 12 was the perception that — right or wrong — it was the UT tail wagging the conference dog.  Barron warned all of those concerned about the ACC being too North Carolina or hoops-centric to be careful what you wish for.

Barron: “2. Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas A&M left the Big 12, at least in part because the Big 12 is not an equal share conference. Texas has considerably more resource avenues and gains a larger share (and I say this as a former dean of the University of Texas at Austin – I watched the Big 12 disintegration with interest). So, when fans realize that Texas would get more dollars than FSU, always having a competitive advantage, it would be interesting to see the fan reaction.”

(Writer’s note: the president appears to be guilty of spreading misinformation ala FSU’s board chairman, or at least isn’t clear as to what tier to which he’s referring as the Big 12 has equal sharing of revenue for Tier 1 and Tier 2 rights.  With the Longhorn Network, however, UT certainly dwarfs the other schools in the conference as there is no sharing of third-tier rights.)

Travel Concerns for Non-Revenue Sports, Loss of Rivalries
In this latest response, Barron makes the case that the travel costs associated with a move to the Big 12 would wipe out any gains in broadcast revenue, plus run beyond that $3 million annual difference between the Big 12 and ACC deals.  Additionally, Barron mentions one rivalry specifically that would be lost in a conference move..

Barron: “3. Much is being made of the extra $2.9M that the Big 12 contract (which hasn’t been inked yet) gets over the ACC contract. Given that the Texas schools are expected to play each other (the Big 12 is at least as Texas centered than the ACC is North Carolina centered), the most likely scenario has FSU playing Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, and West Virginia on a recurring basis and the other teams sporadically (and one more unnamed team has to join to allow the Big 12 to regain a championship game), we realize that our sports teams can no longer travel by bus to most games; the estimate is that the travel by plane required by FSU to be in the Big 12 appears to exceed the $2.9M difference in the contract, actually giving us fewer dollars than we have now to be competitive with the Big 12 teams, who obviously do not have to travel as far. Any renegotiated amount depends not just on FSU but the caliber of any other new team to the Big 12.

4. Few believe that the above teams will fill our stadium with fans of these teams and so our lack of sales and ticket revenue would continue.

5. We would lose the rivalry with University of Miami that does fill our stadium.”

Too Broke to Move?
FSU’s athletic department is already facing cuts due to revenue shortcomings, which has played at least some role in the speculation that the school should move its sports to a conference that offers a better annual TV take.  One of the problems with that, however, is the upfront costs to actually leave the ACC.

Barron: “6. It will cost between $20M and $25M to leave the ACC; we have no idea where that money would come from. It would have to come from the Boosters which currently are unable to support our current University athletic budget, hence the 2% cut in that budget.”

Big 12′s Not Nerdy Enough
Haggard has already gone thermonuclear on the ACC, with the result likely being some very upset conference officials and school presidents.   Now Barron has taken a sniper rifle and aimed it at the Big 12, hitting at the very heart of an institution of higher learning’s purpose.

Barron: 7. The faculty are adamantly opposed to joining a league that is academically weaker, and in fact, many of them resent the fact that a 2% ($2.4M) deficit in the athletics budget receives so much attention from concerned Seminoles, but the loss of 25% of the academic budget (105M) gets none when it is the most critical concern of this University in terms of its successful future.

That bolded part will certainly leave a mark in the classrooms throughout Big 12 country.

Barron closed his memo with some of the first bits of common sense tossed into this situation — don’t negotiate your future in the media and don’t let conference affiliation be governed by an emotional reaction to what some perceive as a “bad” broadcast deal.

I present these issues to you so that you realize that this is not so simple (not to mention that negotiations aren’t even taking place). One of the few wise comments made in the blogosphere is that no one negotiates their future in the media. We can’t afford to have conference affiliation be governed by emotion ? it has to be based on a careful assessment of athletics, finances and academics. I assure you that every aspect of conference affiliation will be looked at by this institution, but it must be a reasoned decision.

Of course, Barron’s “commitment” to the ACC or reasons for remaining in their current conference doesn’t ensure in any way, shape or form that FSU will or won’t remain remain in the ACC, or will or won’t reach out to the Big 12 to gauge interest, if anyone even loosely associated with the university hasn’t already.  What it does, though, is continue to highlight the divide between the upper levels of the university’s administration.

Incidentally, the ACC’s spring meetings commenced today, so we’re it’s a near certainty that we’ll hear more on this issue from all sides at some point in the next day or two.

(Photo credit: Florida State University)

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14 Responses to “FSU prez makes case for remaining in the ACC”
  1. mhalt99 says: May 14, 2012 4:19 PM

    Florida State talking about academics…..ha…ha….ha…ha. cute.

  2. readyfred says: May 14, 2012 4:27 PM

    I actually hope FSU does leave the ACC and their irrational fans get what they ask for. In 6 years, UT, OU and co. leave for the Pac 12, then it’s FSU playing Iowa State and KSU and Kansas and WVU every year. That will actually be both hilarious and sad.

    Then there is a chance that WVU might fill your stadium every other year. That’s something to look forward to, anyway.

    It is a shame that the SEC can’t/won’t take FSU as I am an unabashed fan of that conference. FSU would be a great addition.

    Look FSU, there’s a reason aTm and Mizzou left the Big 12 (-3). The instability beyond 6 yrs in that conference is staggering. OU, UT and the little sisters are going to leave for the Pac 48!

    The grass is always greener…over the septic tank! FSU might be the only team left in the Big 12 (-3) in year 7. Have fun playing with yourselves.

  3. fitz66 says: May 14, 2012 4:36 PM

    How does he not know about equal revenue sharing? And how does he not know that there are at least 4 schools that rate higher academically than FSU.

    Oh, and a must read here:
    http://blogs.ajc.com/jeff-schultz-blog/2012/05/14/fsu-to-big-12-school-has-inflated-idea-of-self-worth/?cxntfid=blogs_jeff_schultz_blog

  4. coolhorn says: May 14, 2012 5:11 PM

    I’ve resisted responses to some SEC partisans who claim the Big XII is on life-support and everything is the fault of the University of Texas, but there needs to be some truth put out here.

    Nebraska chafed in the Big XII at the perception that UT got all the breaks and respect. Nebraska was the big dog in the old Big 8, not so much in the Big XII, and the only part UT played in that was successfully lobbying for the conference not to accept partial qualifiers. Nebraska stepped all over conference mate Mizzou to get the Big 10 invite.

    A&M was offered an opportunity to share in what became the Longhorn Network, but declined until UT had done all of the prep work and ESPN did their big deal with UT. THEN A&M came back and indicated they’d like to take part. Not surprisingly, they were told no thanks, which made them all the madder. A&M took extra money from the Big XII on the good-faith promise that they’d remain members in good standing, then bolted to the SEC the first chance they got, citing “unfair recruiting advantages” the Longhorn Network offered UT…that’s just funny, any way you look at it, since very few people currently can even get the Longhorn Network.

    Reference the comment about UT, OU, and others leaving the conference in a few years…every team in the Big XII went all in on their tier one and tier two TV rights, for the life of the new contract, which is fifteen years. Any team that tries to leave the Big XII, including UT and OU, will do so without their primary TV rights…that’s something NO team would be stupid enough to do.

    I understand that it’s the wish of fans of some schools that left the Big XII that the conference would blow up, but it’s just not happening. The Big XII is rapidly becoming a destination conference in realignment, and, there’s a new-found peace in the Big XII now that the malcontents have all left for other conferences.

    All of this is fact, not opinion. The Big XII is off of life support once-and-for-all.

  5. urfinished says: May 14, 2012 5:12 PM

    It’s all posturing. FSU is rightfully p*ssed at the Carolina blue-bloods for raping the conference as a whole. That is what the ACC gets for giving a former UNC AD so much control.
    Swofford refuses to give football its due as the best sport in the country right now…and FSU, Clemson, VT, etc are getting ripped off because of it.
    Hopefully it just costs Swofford his job as ACC commish, but it could cause FSU, Clemson to the Big12 and VT to the SEC.

  6. thegamecocker says: May 14, 2012 6:26 PM

    @Unfinished

    I have to chuckle at this. Circa 1970, Coach Frank McGuire then of U. of South Carolina railed (looked it up Auburn grads) at the power of the North Carolina schools to dictate the rules of the then ACC. Now Florida State, Clemson, VT are balking at the recently concluded TV deal that John Swofford, a former BASKETBALL player at North Carolina, executed. The ACC is and will always be PERCEIVED as a basketball conference FIRST….football a distant second. Now don’t get me wrong, even now, I personally rue (look it up Auburn grads) the day South Carolina departed the ACC. The reason I feel this way is it destroyed everything that Coach McGuire had established AND the University was left in “Never-Never Land” while Clemson benefitted from our departure. But I digress and this one will absolutely floor many of you: I agree 100% with the Faculty at FSU: “The faculty are adamantly opposed to joining a league that is academically weaker, and in fact, many of them resent the fact that a 2% ($2.4M) deficit in the athletics budget receives so much attention from concerned Seminoles, but the loss of 25% of the academic budget (105M) gets none when it is the most critical concern of this University in terms of its successful future.” The reason a university exists is for students to LEARN! Not necessarily play football games. FSU is now going to pay the cost for being affiliated with some of the finest academic institutions in the country. Meanwhile U. of South Carolina has grown both ACADEMICALLY as well as ATHLETICALLY. That is the balance successful programs aspire to. I enjoy being affiliated with U. of Florida, U. of Georgia, Vanderbilt, LSU, Alabama, and now Missouri and Texas A&M. All fine institutions of higher learning. Mizzou and A&M made a most wise decision. If FSU were allowed to join the SEC, their coffers would have a much healthier revenue stream because virtually every SEC game is a sell-out. But, we don’t need them and U. of Florida doesn’t want them. And I personally wouldn’t want to see Clemson in the SEC at this point either. For the record, they double-crossed South Carolina by not leaving at that time even though they said they would. They can go to hell though as we now OWN THEIR SORRY ARSES! IPTAY my ARSE! We now have more money than Clemson and a nicer campus with far better facilities. Hey Clemson – COME TOUCH MY ROCK!

  7. urfinished says: May 14, 2012 6:47 PM

    @ TheGameCocker

    Some things don’t change I suppose. I’d love for South Carolina to still be in the ACC to provide better balance in the conferences. That is a pipe dream and will never happen, but I wish two SEC schools could head to the ACC for that reason.
    I’m not a FSU guy…or Clemson…one of the other footbal programs in the ACC. I’d say the only other one but I guess you can’t completely count out Miami…who knows…maybe you can.
    Either way…UNC basically controls the ACC and, as you mentioned, has for a long time. I think it is time for a revolt.

  8. drummerhoff says: May 14, 2012 8:42 PM

    Remember this from July 2011? It sounds a lot like today …

    Big 12 football notebook: Texas A&M committed to conference

    BY MIKE BALDWIN AND BERRY TRAMEL, Staff Writers, mbaldwin@opubco.com; btramel@opubco.com
    Published: July 25, 2011

    There have been constant rumors for more than a year that Texas A&M is considering bolting to the SEC , but athletic director Bill Byrne said Monday the Aggies are committed to the Big 12 .

    “It’s good for all of us to stay together,” Byrne said. “We have natural rivalries. We’re in the same time zone… All I’ve thought about is making sure the conference stays together and everyone is treated fairly.”

    Read more: http://newsok.com/article/3588774#ixzz1utW0ynuA

  9. kcrobert10 says: May 14, 2012 11:03 PM

    I still don’t get fsu and clemson intrest in the big 12. 3 mill won’t make up the difference in travel cost and loss ticket sales cause fans of ku, kst, ist aren’t going to travel to those schools. Also I don’t see why the other schools in the big 12 want to expand and cut down there piece of the pie. By the time they expand to 12 again are they going to make more than the acc schools I doubt it. Maybe this will make the sec to go to 16 by either getting the Oklahoma schools or the Virginia schools. Given Mr slives past actions I would think the Virginia schools would be the Target due to bigger tv markets.

  10. TxGrown says: May 14, 2012 11:05 PM

    FSU is as committed to the ACC as I am to weight watchers.

  11. coolhorn says: May 15, 2012 12:25 AM

    The new Big XII TV contract has escalators built in such that the value of the contract increases IF the Big XII adds the right (read: TV-friendly) teams. FSU fits that description.

  12. deucez2 says: May 15, 2012 11:58 AM

    @kcrobert10

    If FSU and another school are added to the B12 the TV deal will be renegotiated. So 20 mil per school could turn into 22 to 25 mil per school. Also, in the B12 FSU can negotiate their own Tier 3 TV deal which would add even more revenue to the school. So you don’t think an extra 5 to 10 mil per year is enough to offset travel cost? Let’s talk about travel here: the closest school by bus is GT and thats over a 4 hr bus ride. The next closest, Clemson, at over
    7 hours. So there isn’t that’s great of a disparity in travel. Not to mention FSU would probably end up in a division with OU or TX but we don’t know what those division mates would look like without a deal on the table. The pluses for FSU are far greater than the negatives.

  13. readyfred says: May 15, 2012 2:25 PM

    In response to the above regarding the Big XII on “life support”, no one says it is now. But in 7 yrs there will not be any need for “life support”. It will be a sudden and fatal heart attack that will kill the conference when UT, OU and the “little sisters of the poor” leave for the PAC 68.

    And HORNS, when it happens, have fun playing 5 games a year in the Pacific Time Zone!!!

  14. corvusrex96 says: May 15, 2012 3:26 PM

    If FSU and Miami would have fielded decent teams the past 10 years maybe the ACC could have reaped a better TV deal?

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