ACC is looking for ways to increase revenue and close the financial gap

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner Jim Phillips leads a league generating record revenues, with more and more money going to member schools.

It’s also a league that struggles to keep up with its peers in the Big Ten and Southeastern conferences.

SU schools have been talking for years about finding ways to bridge this growing gap. But as the Big Ten and the SEC expand to add big names, the ACC’s concern becomes more pressing and even sparks uncertainty about its long-term future over whether schools could possibly try. to chase the money elsewhere.

For now, that means trying to squeeze more money out of a long-standing TV deal, tossing around ideas, and even hoping that Notre Dame might one day give up football independence to join the ACC and increase the results.

At the ACC Kickoff preseason media days on Wednesday, Phillips said “all options are on the table.”

“It’s important…so it deserves your attention,” Phillips said in an interview with The Associated Press. “It deserves creativity. It’s worth everything you have to try to find a way forward that really makes sense and adds additional value to the conference.

The league’s deal with ESPN, which included the long-awaited launch of its own network in 2019, runs until 2036. It also has an extension of a rights grant provision that gives the league control of media rights for any school that tries to leave for the duration of the agreement, which is a way to deter defections in a future realignment.

This appears to have the ACC on solid footing for the immediate future. But for how long ? Finding a way to improve the financial situation could determine this.

Phillips described the league and ESPN as partners with a mutual interest in making the ACC Network as profitable as possible to support the league.

“How can they have a partnership and an asset and not want it to really flourish over the next 14 years?” Phillips told the AP. ” It does not mean anything. So they are motivated. And when you talk about (how) we’re looking at multiple options, that’s just it.

“You’re not trying to eliminate potential opportunities, you’re trying to create. … You can do something with your network. You can do anything with events. You can certainly do something with the expansion if you want. But there is value in any move you end up making.

The ACC’s latest tax return listed a record total revenue of $578.3 million while doling out an average of $36.1 million per school for the 2020-21 season, which included Notre Dame as the one-year full football member for planning purposes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, television revenues have grown from approximately $288.6 million in fiscal year 2018-19 before the launch of the ACC network to $397.4 million in 2020-21.

And yet, years of healthy growth are far outweighed by numbers from the SEC and the Big Ten. For that same 2020-21 season, the SEC reported nearly $833.4 million in revenue and an average payout of $54.6 million, while the Big Ten reported $679.8 million and a payout. average of $47.9 million.

And with those leagues announcing upcoming brand additions — Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC, USC and UCLA to the Big Ten — the revenue gap could grow more aggressively.

“It’s a concern, yes,” North Carolina State coach Dave Doeren said. “If a school receives $30 million more than another school, it can do more things with that money. It’s been like that for a while, though.

“If you look at what happened, we still had a team in the playoffs (seven out of eight) years. So we got over it. But you wouldn’t like to get over it if you didn’t have to. .

Several others ignored the topic.

Louisville offensive lineman Caleb Chandler, a sixth-year senior, wasn’t focused on that because he’ll be gone next year and “won’t affect me in any way.” NC State quarterback Devin Leary said he’s not worried about it either.

“You want to talk about revenue and spreads, like it’s just – I coach football,” Boston College coach Jeff Hafley said. “That beats me.”

And then there was Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, whose program reached six college football playoffs with two national championships.

“I don’t have any concerns because other people are worrying about all of this and dealing with it and finding out anything,” Swinney said. “I mean, Lord have mercy, in 2036, I don’t know where I will be. It’s long and they will understand all that.

Moreover, ACC teams can’t do much more than win games and become more attractive brands. Beyond that, it’s up to league management to determine the next moves.

“I think you have to be measured and it has to ultimately be good for the long-term health of the conference,” Phillips told the AP. “Making a move just to make a move is not the right thing for the ACC. It just isn’t.


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