You are currently viewing Why ACC, Pac-12 merger to a 24-team conference could save both leagues


As the future of the Pac-12 Conference remains uncertain without a media rights deal in place and several power programs in the ACC wanting a bigger piece of the league’s current revenue distribution model, it’s time for these two conference to join as one, according to former ESPN head John Skipper. A potential ACC, Pac-12 should merge to form a superleague would make the new conference more attractive to a potential lucrative TV and media rights sponsorship.

Skipper said previous reports of ESPN no longer being interested in a partnership with the Pac-12, he believes, are false.

“I think the ACC should merge with the Pac-12, which now has 10 teams,” Skipper said on The Dan LeBatard Show. “I would take eight of those teams, change my footprint, have a 24 team conference with a western division and their ACC Network footprint would expand to the west coast. You would probably force a renegotiation with ESPN for a new deal and you can solve both problems. The ACC would get more money, expand its footprint, can compete with the SEC and the Big Ten.”

Not only would the ACC expand its footprint, but the league’s torchbearers — North Carolina, Florida State and Clemson — could potentially fight for a bigger piece of the revenue pie and win with unequal distribution.

It could keep Oregon and Arizona State, as examples, from being poached by other leagues in expansion, as well.

Revenue distribution is a factor Tar Heels athletic director Bubba Cunningham challenged this week, following public cries from FSU AD Michael Alford, who said recently “something has to change moving forward” for the Seminoles to remain ACC members during a BOT general board meeting this month.

The ACC is locked in its current TV deal until 2036. Recent lucrative deals for the Big Ten, SEC and Big 12 are considerably more than the ACC’s current contract and the Pac-12 is next in the pecking order. Unless something changes, according to UNC, FSU and Clemson, some of the league’s members could get harvested by others.

Clemson AD Graham Neff has called for uneven revenue distribution as well within the ACC.

“I’m not sure you’re going to satisfy everyone with a differential payout,” Cunningham said. “In fact, I’m relatively confident you’re not going to satisfy anyone. Because some aren’t going to think they have enough and others feel like they took an unnecessary haircut.”

FSU currently represents 70% more viewers than the ACC average and Clemson’s not far behind. The numbers show that FSU and Clemson represent 51% of all 4.0 million viewership games in the ACC over from 2014 through 2022. UNC’s obvious draw as a national brand is its basketball program.

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The Pac-12 authorized early negotiations to begin on a new media rights deal shortly after USC and UCLA announced their Big Ten defections last June, only for the Big 12 to strike a new media rights deal with ESPN and Fox Sports that will reportedly last through at least the 2030-31 season worth $2.3 billion total. It leaves the Pac-12 as the only Power 5 league with media rights before the 2030s still on the market.


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