Local News

ACC Expansion All About Money

Posted May 14, 2003

— It was all the buzz in the Atlantic Coast Conference Wednesday -- the proposed expansion of the conference.

All but two of the nine ACC schools voted in favor of the expansion. Duke and UNC were the only no votes.

That led to two questions. The first: what schools do they want invited to the conference?

The University of Miami appears to be the top choice. But there's also talk about Virginia Tech, Boston College and Syracuse.

The second question: Why would the ACC bring new members into a family that's been together for 50 years?

You have to follow the money trail to answer that question -- or take a look at N.C. State's Carter-Finley Stadium and new $26 million fieldhouse.

It's all part of being be competitive with other football leagues and programs, an expansion deal driven by lucrative TV contracts for college football.

Money is driving ACC expansion talks, just like Philip Rivers drives the Wolfpack offense.

The conference cut checks for nearly $10 million to each of its nine schools last year. Expansion supporters say the conference could score even bigger by adding three new members.

"The theory is that these schools will add 30 million in new revenue," said David Glenn of the ACC Sports Journal. "So even though you're slicing the pie in more pieces, they'll be bigger."

One potential payoff is the chance to get more teams -- like national champion Syracuse -- into the NCAA basketball tournament. But football, with its lucrative TV contracts, would be the real moneymaker.

"The last year of the ACC football TV deal is worth 25 million," Glenn said. "With Miami and the other schools, the theory is you could upgrade from 25 million."

There's no guarantee the ACC would increase its riches by expanding. So some members, like Carolina and Duke, don't want to jeopardize an already lucrative split.

Dr. Bill Friday, former president of the UNC system and chairman of the Knight Commission, said the ACC has lost sight of what's important.

"The ACC was always the leader in college athletics," Friday said. "Now we've become a follower of commercial TV and the money that's involved in commercial television."

One point everyone agrees on is that adding Miami, with its powerhouse football program, is the linchpin holding the deal together.

It's been reported that the Hurricanes want to come in with Boston College and Syracuse. The Hurricanes have a big alumni base in the Northeast, and the ACC wants Boston College because of the Boston TV market.


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