Media deal OK'd to solidify ACC

PASADENA, Calif. -- The Atlantic Coast Conference presidents approved Monday a grant of media rights for the league through 2026-27, effectively halting the exodus of any schools to other conferences.

The move solidifies the future of the ACC, which had several teams that had been speculated as targets of the Big Ten.

The ACC's grant of rights makes it untenable financially for a school to leave, guaranteeing in the 14 years of the deal that a school's media rights, including revenue, for all home games would remain with the ACC regardless of the school's affiliation.

"This announcement further highlights the continued solidarity and commitment by our member institutions," ACC commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. "The Council of Presidents has shown tremendous leadership in insuring the ACC is extremely well positioned with unlimited potential."

The ACC becomes the fourth league with a grant of rights, along with the Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12. The SEC is the only conference among the "power five" leagues that does not have a grant of rights.

"It was pretty cut and dry to unify this league," another ACC source said. "The ACC has been a really good league, and now it can become really special."

Last year, when the ACC increased its exit fee from $20 million to three times its annual operating budget -- about $52 million -- Maryland and Florida State voted against the increase.

Maryland leaves for the Big Ten in 2014 and has filed a lawsuit, claiming it shouldn't be responsible for the new exit fee. The ACC also filed a lawsuit against Maryland, guaranteeing the Terps pay the full amount.

As for the grant of rights, "Florida State is on board," a source said.

"The added resources coming to the ACC schools will have a significant impact on the success of our athletic programs," Florida State president Eric J. Barron said in a statement. "We are also very pleased that we will be moving forward on the next phase of developing an ACC network. The vote of the ACC presidents will ensure that the conference will strengthen its position of leadership among Division I athletics."

"In my opinion, any potential realignment of the Atlantic Coast Conference ended with this vote," Miami athletic director Blake James said. "Today was a great day for the league and for all the members of the league."

Multiple ACC schools have been speculated as targets for the Big Ten, if that league decided to expand to 16 schools.

With the grant of rights in place at three other power leagues, if the Big Ten wants to add more schools, it would have to target schools from leagues that don't have a grant of rights -- the SEC, the American Athletic Conference (formerly Big East), Mid-American, Conference USA, Mountain West, Sun Belt -- or BYU.

On July 1, Pittsburgh and Syracuse join as full ACC members while Notre Dame joins in all sports but football. In 2014, Louisville joins the ACC as a full member. The decision applies to those schools as well.

"People are always speculating about teams leaving the league, but no one has wavered," a source said. "This [the grant of rights] is a good move. A proactive move."

The grant of rights coincides with the ACC's TV deal with ESPN through the 2026-27 season. That deal was worth $17 million per school per year, but sources told ESPN last year it is expected to increase to at least $20 million per school per year with the addition of Notre Dame.

Duke men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski said the decision "secures the ACC's future, and thus Duke's, for years to come."

"It is one of the great days in the history of our conference as it shows the highest level of commitment -- not by words, but by actions," Krzyzewski said in a statement.

Bubba Cunningham, the athletic director at North Carolina, said the grant of rights "should put [conference] realignment on the shelf."

"These are strong and definitive moves by the ACC and its member schools to further announce our desire to stay together and position ourselves among the top conferences in the country," Cunningham said in a statement. "We look forward to continued talks with the ACC and ESPN on how to best strengthen and position our multi-media package." Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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