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.