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ACC announces grant of rights agreement

John Swofford AP

Another summer of realignment rumors looks to be over before it even begins.

First reported by the David Glenn Show, and later confirmed by CBSSports’ Jeremy Fowler and ESPN’s Brett McMuprhy, the ACC has extended the conference’s grant of rights among all 15 members — as in 14 football members and Notre Dame. Specifically, the outlets report that the grant of rights will extend through 2026-27 — the same length as the conference’s exclusive TV deal with ESPN. Additionally, Fowler reports that the ACC’s annual media rights revenue should surpass $20 million per school this year.

The league made the announcement Monday afternoon. Conversations on a conference network are also expected to begin in earnest.

“This announcement further highlights the continued solidarity and commitment by our member institutions,” said ACC Commissioner John Swofford (pictured) in a statement. “The Council of Presidents has shown tremendous leadership in insuring the ACC is extremely well positioned with unlimited potential.”

“The ACC has long been a leader in intercollegiate athletics, both academically and athletically,” said the collective ACC Council of Presidents. “Collectively, we all agree the grant of rights further positions the ACC and its current and future member schools as one of the nation’s premier conferences.”

The move is considered a significant boost to the future stability of the conference, which lost Maryland last fall to the Big Ten and has been fending off rumors for the past year that Florida State, Clemson and/or Virginia may be on their way out as well (the GOR is not expected to impact Maryland’s ongoing litigation with the ACC).

Though the ACC increased its exit fee to over $52 million for departing members, a grant of rights is considered a much stronger metric for stability. Whereas an exit fee is considered liquidated damages and can be negotiated down, a grant of media rights means a school must relinquish its television rights for the length of the agreement.

As The Business of College Sports explains:

In these agreements, all of the conference members grant their television broadcast rights to their athletic contests to the conference for a certain period of time.  If a member leaves the conference during that time, the conference retains the member’s television rights.  Because the value of a school to a conference is the television revenue it can help generate, a grant of rights agreement makes the members essentially worthless to another conference that is looking for new members.

The Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 all have grant of rights in place. Not coincidentally, those three are considered on stable ground. The SEC doesn’t have a GOR, but it would be nothing short of shocking if a member left for another conference.

Point being, the ACC is in a significantly better place with a GOR.

Now, does the latest move halt conference expansion for the foreseeable future? Perhaps, since the list of available schools that would add value is ever dwindling.

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20 Responses to “ACC announces grant of rights agreement”
  1. deadeye says: Apr 22, 2013 5:35 PM

    Congratulations to Swofford and the ACC!

    He managed to do what looked to be impossible last November, get all the members to sign a GOR. This measure was LITERALLY the only thing that could keep the ACC intact. Adding Notre Dame in Olympic sports wasn’t going to do it, and the 52 million exit fee wasn’t going to do it.

    Swofford was wise to get this done prior to the conclusion of the Maryland law suite. The Terps will exit for 20 million or less, and others might have bolted if that precedent had been set. But that’s no longer a concern.

    Mike Slive is also quite happy with this new ACC GOR. It keeps the BIG10 out of the south (they were threatening to invite UVA), and it keeps the ACC behind their regional SEC rivals by about 10 million per year. The SEC will dominate the southeast into the forseeable future. Additionally, having five power conferences instead of four necessitates the use of polls to establish playoff participants. That favors the SEC since they are the conference most likely to have multiple teams at the top of the polls.

    And once again, hats off to Swofford. This truly was magnificient achievement.

  2. thegamecocker says: Apr 22, 2013 6:57 PM

    Swofford is nothing more than a puppet for Roy Williams and Coach K. The ACC has always been and will always be, a basketball conference first. I like it because it keeps Clemson behind South Carolina in all sports and revenue wise. Same for Ga Tech and Fl St. Not a big deal though because the lawyers will find a loophole to wiggle out of any conference. Funny how the SEC doesn’t need to do anything to retain its members. It’s all about the money and HOW that money is used….

  3. artbyshan says: Apr 22, 2013 7:23 PM

    Maybe I missed it, but have these agreements been signed (Agreed to) by the members as of yet ? If some have/haven’t, who are the schools that have yet to sign ?

  4. normtide says: Apr 22, 2013 7:41 PM

    Deadeye- Great post. Slive had stated before that he wants the ACC to remain a viable league. I believe for the exact save reasons you laid out. It is sort of a buffer for the SEC.

    That said, I don’t believe a GOR is the super glue it’s made out to be. If say, FSU leaves, I don’t see a court not allowing them to take their 3rd tier with them. They would have to pay a large sum got breaching the contract. To me, GOR or exit fees are not what keeps a league together. The best way is for a league to do everything to keep members happy, i.e. the SEC and the B1G. I don’t think either has an exit fee. Unless your the PAC, and geography binds you. The ACC will only be really stable when they balance the needs of basketball and football. By location alone, the ACC should be a football, and therefore a money, power.

  5. bman88 says: Apr 22, 2013 8:28 PM

    Oh great we get to keep a terrible conference I was hoping that they would fall apart so we could have stronger big conferences.

  6. classyjacklambert says: Apr 22, 2013 9:14 PM

    LOL at gamecocker. Funniest post you’ve written in a while.

  7. drummerhoff says: Apr 22, 2013 9:30 PM

    What is FSU thinking? Do they want to lag behind UF forever??

  8. lbijake says: Apr 22, 2013 9:39 PM

    What a double handed move. Steal all those teams from the Big East ands then pass this so they can’t be raided. They should at least be ,made to change their name to ACC/BigEast.

  9. deadeye says: Apr 22, 2013 10:00 PM

    There is a school of thought that states that the addition of Louisville over Uconn was a sign that the football universities (FSU, Miami, Clemson) had gained the upper hand on the basketball schools (UNC, Duke, Wake).

    I don’t know if it’s true, but the recent moves in the ACC have shown an emphasis on improving the football product. Perhaps these changes will snowball and the ACC will be able to close the gap with the other four power conferences. They are however still a good ways behind.

  10. amosalanzostagg says: Apr 23, 2013 9:03 AM

    Movement isn’t over yet. The ACC is at 15 teams. One short of the “magical” superconference. That is when the money starts to get really crazy. The ACC has added Notre Dame, Hate them or love them, it has given the ACC a huge national stage in both football AND basketball.

    Right now, The ACC and the B1G are on par with each other on football AND basketball parity on a national basis. The SEC and the PAC-12 are next and the Big 12 is still in the starting gate.

    Do not be surprised should the Big 12 fold. Texas has always done what is in their best interest and if they see that they’re being left behind, they’ll jettison the Big 12 like they did the old SWC. How would the ACC like Texas running their conference like they did the SWC and the Big 12? Would the ACC take Texas?

    Hold on, It’s still going to be a bumpy ride.

    Roll Tide

  11. klownboy says: Apr 23, 2013 3:41 PM

    Great deal for the ACC. This should put the breaks on conference realignment for at least the next 14 years – maybe longer.

  12. pastabelly says: Apr 23, 2013 4:55 PM

    In the past year, the ACC lost Maryland, gained Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Louisville, and Notre Dame for five footbal games and all other sports. They are also in the process of creating their own network and have bumped up their school low guarantees to $20 million per year. You can argue the benefits of losing Maryland and picking up Louisville. But you cannot argue that Swofford has put the ACC in a much better position today than it was a year ago or even recently when many on these boards were gleefully predicting the demise of the conference. We heard everything from the Big 10 poaching UNC, UVA, and GT to the Big 12 grabbing FSU and Clemson. If anyone should be having second thoughts about all of this, it’s Maryland. Have fun establishing your rivalries with Iowa, Minnesota, Indiana, and Nebraska. Hey, you have Rutgers as your geographic rival. How’s that going to work out? Well, there’s always Penn State when they shake this probation thing.

  13. pastabelly says: Apr 23, 2013 4:58 PM

    amosalanzostagg says:
    Apr 23, 2013 9:03 AM

    Do not be surprised should the Big 12 fold. Texas has always done what is in their best interest and if they see that they’re being left behind, they’ll jettison the Big 12 like they did the old SWC. How would the ACC like Texas running their conference like they did the SWC and the Big 12? Would the ACC take Texas?
    Nice try, but the Big 12 schools also signed a grant of rights. The only major conference without one is the SEC and they don’t need one. Texas is not a fit for the ACC. Despite bringing in Notre Dame, the ACC will remain the conference that dominates the East/Atlantic Coast up and down. Maryland made a mistake.

  14. normtide says: Apr 23, 2013 7:55 PM

    Have to agree with you pasta. I would take Louisville over Maryland any day. Maryland gives you a solid basketball program, a poor football team, and shaky recruiting ground. Louisville has a great b-ball program, football is on the rise with a history that shows it can be sustained, and in roads into Ohio recruiting. Maryland MAY give you cable households, but not if they can’t put quality on the field. (Side note, rutgers could be the catch for the B1G. New Jersey actually puts out some good recruits). To me, the biggest mistake in expansion was the big 12 taking West Virginia instead of Louisville. No disrespect to my WVU friends, but UL has more potential.

    The latest craze of grabbing schools just for the number of TV sets in its area will bust at some point. Ratings will still come down to quality programming, like it always has. Sure, people in Maryland quill watch when Ohio State comes to town, but will they watch a mediocre Maryland play Indiana?

  15. amosalanzostagg says: Apr 23, 2013 11:16 PM


    So? Say Texas decides to go it’s own way, whether as an independent with the LHN or go to the PAC-12 or ACC. You lose your premier flagship school and who wants the Big 12 with Grants of Rights? You think OU wants to stay in a conference with no television impact? You think Madison Avenue TV execs would tremble at an Iowa State Kansas football game? How about Baylor versus OU? Texas Tech against Kansas State?

    Texas knows it is the Big 12. That has been Deloss’s goal all along, to control the conference and have the conference do what Deloss wants. Big12 commissioner? Deloss’s choice. Ask Frank Broyles of Arkansas, Ask Colorado, or Nebraska, or Missouri, or Texas A&M what they think of Texas. It’s not envy. Texas has built it’s model on maximizing dollar value. That is why Texas, Inc.
    is very successful. It is predicated upon doing what is best for Texas. If that
    means trying to go to the B1G right after it’s National Championship loss to Alabama, Texas will do it. Entertain a move west to the PAC-12 with OU, Tech and OSU? Sure, Texas would have done it in a New York minute if the PAC-12
    has let them keep the LHN. Try to move to the ACC? Sure, but when rejected, try to take Clemson and FSU to join the Big12. Texas is all about the Texas brand at all costs.

    AD’s have told me that you had better be talking about contingency plans in today’s ever changing world of college athletics, because WHEN the feces hits the oscillator, it will be every school for themselves, and only the marquee big time college programs are the ones with the wear with all to survive the major shakedown that is coming in college sports. Think O’Bannion WINNING his case against the NCAA.

  16. amosalanzostagg says: Apr 23, 2013 11:23 PM


    Texas brings the Texas TV market to the ACC. TV drives the market place. The ACC becomes a stronger football conference with Texas AND Notre Dame complimenting a strong basketball conference. The only question remaining would be if the ACC and Notre Dame would want Texas at the table and having Deloss Dodds looking to control the conference.

    That fear is why the Big 12 is looked as being a conference waiting to die. Texas will do what is best for Texas.

  17. normtide says: Apr 24, 2013 12:07 AM

    No one wants Texas in their league, except the teams that need Texas to keep the big 12 alive. KU, KSU, ISU, and Baylor. If Texas leaves, only Kansas has any chance of finding a home in a decent league. And even that’s shaky, at best.

  18. briangetsit says: Apr 24, 2013 1:32 AM

    This affects the Big 12 most and there is no way around it… them wanting FSU and possibly Clemson wasn’t just about getting to 12 teams for a championship game. It was about crippling the ACC and this undeniably would have done it.

    So that brings us back to the now… the Big 12 and ACC are still 4 and 4a. They both have grants of rights (approx. same length). I even think for the time being even the Big Ten and SEC are fine. Things won’t get choppy again I do not think till the Big Ten’s network contract comes up for renew in 2015-16 (isn’t it?) OR having a conference pout because 5 teams can’t make it into a 4 team playoff.

  19. deadeye says: Apr 24, 2013 9:37 AM

    Texas ain’t leaving Oklahoma behind.

    The ACC is very unrealistic. Payout is too low and they’d be on an island.

    The BIG10 is more realistic (if OU can go).

    The SEC is seemingly realistic. They would accept UT and OU in a heartbeat. Problem though, TAMU might block, and UT wants to run whatever conference they are in. So I think SEC is out.

    PAC is unrealistic, those bridges are burned beyond repair.

    They might have to resort to being independent.

  20. amosalanzostagg says: Apr 24, 2013 7:22 PM


    I’ve been involved with University Athletics since 1969 with Universities and Conferences all over the US. Still am. Texas (under Deloss Dodds)solicited the SEC in 1986 to join then. A&M got wind of the move and got the State Legislature to enjoin Texas from leaving the old SWC. Frank Broyles took Arkansas out of the old SWC because he was tired of the crap Texas kept pulling on Arkansas

    OU and OSU are joined at the hip by the Oklahoma Legislature. If OU moves to a new conference, so does OSU.

    If you remember the overtures that were made to the PAC-12 several years ago involving UT, OU, OSU and Texas Tech moving to the PAC-12. The deal was nixed by PAC-12 Presidents and Chancellors for two reasons.

    (1.) PAC-12 Chancellors and Presidents DID NOT want either Tech nor OSU based
    solely on academics. (Forget the Arizona and ASU arguement for this post).
    The AAU weighs very heavy in decision by PAC-12 Presidents and Chancellors.
    OSU and Tech are neither.

    (2.) The LHN. UT President Bill Powers still hasn’t gotten back to the PAC-12
    commissioner on his question if Texas would subordinate the LHN to PAC-12
    procedures and guidelines for the duration of the remaining years and modification of the ESPN contract. (Read Deloss Dodd’s isn’t about to jettison
    ESPN money to the PAC-12).

    The SEC won’t invite Texas, period. You have Alabama, Texas A&M, Arkansas,
    Missouri, LSU and both Mississippi schools already on record saying a resounding
    “NO!” for Texas. That is seven out of 14 teams. The SEC doesn’t need Texas since they already have A&M and the respective Dallas/Ft Worth, Houston and San Antonio/Austin TV markets. Diminishing returns by adding another Texas team.

    The SEC is comfortable with 14 teams right now. They have two candidates in mind should the conference upheaval continue. Texas is not one of the candidates.

    Texas will do what they want to do in Texas best interests. That is why the ACC
    is attractive to Texas. 15 teams, one short of a super conference. ND on board for their limited football schedule. Great basketball conference. ND isn’t on an island
    since their non revenue sports would be playing in the ACC. Same would be for

    The question is, would the ACC accept Texas knowing how Texas is in wanting total control of a conference across the board. I sincerely hope not. To my Texas friends, you know it is true, Texas is a parasite looking for a host. That is why they went after FSU and Clemson in hopes of destroying the ACC. Texas helped destroy the old SWC, and Texas is in the process of destroying the Big 12. They drove off
    Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri and Texas A&M.

    Roll Tide

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