For three years and more, college sports fans have endured non-stop rumor and pointless hypothetical scenarios regarding the conference affiliation of nearly every Division I program in the United States. Boston College has not been immune to such discussion, with articles and random message board threads suggesting everything from BC pleading with the Big Ten for its life to crawling back to the desiccated Big East. Fortunately, on Monday, BC’s Atlantic Coast Conference took a major step towards ending realignment for the foreseeable future.
The fifteen member schools of the ACC, including newcomers Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, and Louisville, and definitely not including Maryland, signed a grant of media rights agreement which holds through 2027. For those who don’t have enough fingers to count, which is everyone, that’s 14 years from now, or 12 years after Marty McFly gets fired by Needles in Back to the Future Part II. (Seriously, I’m still waiting for my flying car.) In the agreement, any school that leaves the ACC between now and 2027 will forfeit all of its television revenue coin.
For those who need it put another way, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution does so simply:
This [grant of rights agreement] means each ACC school has pledged that money for its TV rights through the conclusion of the conference’s contract with ESPN, which runs through 2027, will remain with the ACC no matter where that school happens to reside. If, say, Georgia Tech decided to move to the Big Ten, Georgia Tech’s TV money would go not to the Big Ten but to the ACC. Which, bottom-line, means Georgia Tech won’t be moving to the Big Ten.
So, if anyone leaves the ACC any time soon, they’ll get nothing and they’ll like it. Not to mention, they’ll still have to pony up 50 million clams to pay their way out. It therefore seems logical to assume that nobody is leaving the Atlantic Coast Conference for quite some time and we can all rejoice. There will be no more talk of conferences like the Big Ten poaching the ACC for some of our North Carolina schools, or even us here at Boston College (which is fine by me, because I don’t think I could get used to the slow-paced, low-scoring basketball games). We’ve also heard the rumors of the Big 12 and SEC performing NC-17 flirting with our southern ACC schools. That’s over, for now.
Furthermore, we finally have a sense of conference stability. It may be that any perceived instability was more a function of rumor and misdirection than an actual existential threat to the conference, since it is clear now that all 15 schools are on-board. We can look forward to what we hope is decent ACC football, but what I’m certain will be great ACC basketball.
Other major conferences including the Big 12, Pac-12, and Big Ten have already taken this step, and those leagues are stable. The ACC is as well, and Boston College sports is in a long-term situation. That will certainly bother the “we never should have left the Big East” crowd, even though the Big East essentially no longer exists, anyway. Nevertheless, BC has a long-term conference home, and that is how it shall remain.