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Where ACC realignment stands as lawsuits loom, new members join

NS_headshot_clearbackgroundby:Nick Schultz05/15/24


ESPN's David Hale Full Interview with Andy Staples | Mini ACC Preview, Discussion | 05.15.24

Summer 2024 will mark a new era of college athletics. A groundbreaking round of conference realignment wrapped up almost a year ago, and the Autonomous Four leagues will all have new looks.

That includes the ACC, which brought in three new members – Stanford and Cal from the crumbling Pac-12, and SMU from the American Athletic Conference. While the realignment winds have calmed since Fall 2023, there’s still a bit of a breeze as lawsuits loom on multiple fronts.

For the ACC, it’s now a league in a precarious spot entering a pivotal summer.

“The truly crazy part about this is there’s three other teams here that said, ‘We’ll come and play here for nothing. You don’t even have to pay us. We just want to be a part of this.’ And then, you have three other teams that are basically, like, knocking the doors down to try to get out,” ESPN’s David Hale told Andy Staples on Andy Staples On3. “It’s wild.”

The ACC is facing lawsuits from two prominent members – Clemson and Florida State – as they evaluate the league’s grant of rights. Depending on how those shake out, it could open the door for another round of conference realignment, although that’s just one part of the conversation.

All the while, the NCAA is facing a major decision to settle multiple lawsuits. Yahoo! Sports’ Ross Dellenger reported that could come with a hefty price tag, between back payments and a potential revenue-sharing model, and it will only grow without an agreement. Dellenger previously reported a deadline was also in place to settle.

Hale said that situation goes hand-in-hand with the ACC’s legal battles, and the fact that schools are looking for more money is another reason they’re looking to put themselves in the strongest financial position possible. In fact, the idea of revenue sharing came up when NCAA president Charlie Baker arrived at the league meetings.

“Look, I think it’s almost impossible to separate the, ‘What is the future of the ACC?’ conversation from the, ‘What is the future of the NCAA? What is the future of the entire industry?’ conversation because so much of this is driven by almost a sense of fear that when the game of musical chairs stops, I need to make sure I have a seat,” Hale said. “I mean, it’s part of the reason Washington and Oregon are willing to take less just be a part of the Big Ten. … Charlie Baker was here yesterday and one of the big topics is the revenue sharing model.

“If you add revenue sharing, increased scholarships, plus what they’re gonna have to pay to the NCAA to help settle this case, the average school that’s all-in is looking at probably a $30-35 million, somewhere in that window, change to their budget. And that’s a lot of money. … That’s what’s driving everything.”