The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) is actively considering expansion by potentially adding Stanford University and the University of California from the struggling Pac-12 conference, according to a source familiar with the matter. The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, revealed that discussions regarding expansion are gaining momentum within the ACC.
Recently, the ACC convened its board of university leaders on two separate occasions within a three-day period to explore the addition of Stanford, Cal, and even Southern Methodist University (SMU) from the American Athletic Conference. However, an official vote was not taken due to the understanding that the necessary number of votes required for approval—12 out of 15—would not be achieved.
Despite encountering obstacles, the expansion plans were never completely discarded. One particular area of concern for several schools including Florida State, Clemson, and North Carolina was the distribution of new revenue generated through the inclusion of additional members into the conference.
Nevertheless, ongoing efforts by ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips to devise a revenue distribution model appear promising. This model proposes that a significant portion of the funds received from ESPN, aimed at covering expenses for the three new members, would be allocated towards a performance-based bonus pool.
As the ACC continues its deliberations on expansion, it remains dedicated to enhancing its competitive landscape while carefully addressing the financial implications involved.
ACC Explores Expansion Opportunities
The ACC is actively exploring expansion opportunities amidst a shifting landscape in college athletics. While a meeting of the full board of presidents and chancellors is yet to be scheduled, the league is arranging a meeting of its athletic directors for Thursday.
The ACC previously agreed on a “success incentive initiative” that enables schools to generate more revenue from their postseason performances. Currently, media rights revenue is shared equally within the conference. However, expansion may necessitate a reconsideration of this approach.
Schools joining a new conference typically receive reduced shares of revenue. In light of this, Stanford recently expressed willingness to join the ACC for a significantly reduced share or even no media rights revenue for multiple years. This move follows the departure of eight Pac-12 members, all of whom have announced their intentions to join either the Big Ten or Big 12 by August 2024.
With conference realignment underway, Stanford and Cal find themselves in an urgent search for a new power conference home. The ACC’s expansion discussions, as reported by ESPN, signal its proactive approach to address these emerging challenges.