Conference Realignment Door Slowly Closing

Sam Sharpe-US PRESSWIRE

The ACC is taking a page out of the Big 12's survival plan and is implementing a media grant of rights program that will effectively stop conference poaching.

The ACC is the latest BCS conference to agree to a long-term Grant of Media Rights deal that could essentially put the brakes on any further realignment.

The agreement (resembling those currently in place in the Big 12, Big 10 and Pac 12) turns over each school's media revenue to the conference for distribution. Should a team leave the ACC their media rights money from their new league would stay with the ACC. The agreement is in place through the 2026-27 academic year.

Surprise, surprise, the deal does not include Notre Dame Football.

Since Maryland and Rutgers jumped to the Big 10, expansion rumors had heated up again. Georgia Tech and North Carolina were especially attractive to the Big 10, while Florida State and Clemson were said to be gazing over at the Big 12.

Right now each team in the ACC is set to get at least $20 million a year for their share of the conference media rights. That means a University deciding to pack up and leave could be liable for up to $300 million for the life of the deal.

That's the stick that conference officials are using to keep teams in the fold. The carrot is a possible ACC Network.

The league had asked ESPN to look into the feasibility of a network along the lines of the Big 10, Pac 12 and soon-to-be SEC network. Reports are that ESPN is looking favorably on the idea.

This leaves the SEC as the only power conference without a Grant of Rights Agreement, but then this is a league that has Tony Soprano as their Director of Unity, so no one in that league has a roving eye.

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